Make your home page

Holcomb’s order on a study to move water for Boone County project met with skepticism

Holcomb’s order on a study to move water for Boone County project met with skepticism

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb’s order issued last week moved the management of a water study from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to the Indiana Finance Authority.

The Stop the Water Steal group says his actions will provide transparency for the public in regards to an effort to building a pipeline from north central Indiana for a development project northwest of Indianapolis.

David Sanders, a West Lafayette City council member, said, “It is also betrays the fact that there is widespread lack of trust in the IEDC because of the lack of transparency and lack of communication with local authorities.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. paid $10 million to determine whether enough water exists in an underground aquifer to supply the LEAP Lebanon Innovation District. The huge industrial development in Boone County includes a $3.7 billion project from Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Lilly.  

Holcomb said in his order, “I am confident that these new efforts led by IFA will provide the necessary data to gain a greater understanding of the amount of excess water that is truly available to support all the surrounding region’s growth prior to any action being taken that could inadvertently jeopardize this needed resource.”

Sanders is an associate professor at Purdue and an active member of the Stop the Water Steal group. He takes exception to the governor’s use of the term “excess water.” “There is no ‘excess water’ in the Wabash Valley, and it’s associated aquifers. There is exactly the amount of water that there needs to be for the ecological system.”

The water resource consulting firm Intera has been doing a study on the Wabash River water. Results of an initial study of the Wabash River aquifer were posted on the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s website: “The aquifer will be able to support central Indiana demand without impacting the aquifer or the Wabash River.”

The study is expected to be complete by January.

I-Team 8 reported in October the issues that developed in residential wells a few hundred feet of the test wells. Residents reported their once-clean well water developed a rotten egg smell, and iron in had the water clogged the filters.

City councils in Lafayette, West Lafayette and Attica have formally opposed plans to move water from northwest central Indiana to the Boone County project.

The governor’s order calls for an expansion of testing into at least 12 counties: Benton, Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Montgomery, Parke, Tipton, Vermillion, Warren and White.

The order also calls for additional water monitoring devices in the testing areas that are expected to provide real-time water-use data.

The West Lafayette City Council member says the state government needs additional studies and a long-term approach for water management. Sanders said, “I’m not opposed to expansion of studies. The question is what is the goal of the studies. Is the goal of the studies to understand the problem and try to figure out we can deal with it, or is it just another search for water that can be transported to an industrial project, a poorly planned industrial project in Boone County, Indiana?“