Commentary by Scott Salsbery
The Central Indiana Water Study, funded by the Indiana Finance Authority, was conducted to assess the future demand and availability of Central Indiana’s water resources and propose solutions for water supply issues facing the region. Findings from the first-of-its-kind study have been summarized in a series of videos and other resources to help the public and public officials better understand our important water systems.
Regional collaboration of water suppliers
In central Indiana, our water utilities have already begun meeting on a regular basis to address common issues. This level of communication should continue and even grow to include real-time water use and returns, short-term forecasts, transfers of water between utilities, coordinated drought response and more.
Invest in increasing water availability
Addressing future demand requires careful management and investment in new and existing supply resources. A combination of strategies is needed to ensure adequate supply, including new groundwater and surface water production facilities, increased surface water storage in near-river quarries, seasonal management of wellfields based on their location and water exchange between regions.
Water conservation is crucial
Although households in general are using less water annually, the heavy use of water to keep lawns green during the late summer months poses a challenge to water supplies and affordability. Improving how and when we water lawns is critical to safeguarding our communities’ reliable access to water in the future.
Continued and additional monitoring
More and better data is needed to ensure we can accurately monitor availability and react to threats and challenges. Expanding our stream monitoring network, regulating additional reporting for major water users and defining instream flows are all critical elements to this process.
If the region is to continue to attract new business, it is critical that we understand how to best use the water resources beneath our feet and those moving in our streams. Water is our most important asset because it is necessary for all forms of life and our economic vitality and viability.
Scott Salsbery is the superintendent for Lawrence Utilities and a member for the Central Indiana Drinking Water Collaborative, which includes the cities of Anderson, Carmel, Greenfield, Lawrence, Lebanon and Martinsville and the towns of Bargersville, Brownsburg, Danville, Fortville, Pendleton, Pittsboro, Plainfield, Speedway and Whitestown and Aqua Indiana, Citizens Water, Citizens Westfield Water, Citizens South Madison, Indiana American Water, Morgan County Rural Water and NineStar.