“Whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting,” quoted Mark Twain after a visit to California. In that day, California struggled with finding and maintaining fresh water resources.
And Vince Griffin, the vice president of the environmental and energy policy of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, suggests planning should take place before a crisis-initiated scenario.
Griffin spoke to members of the Warsaw-Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon Friday. Griffin is raising awareness ahead of the 2013 State General Assembly, since Indiana currently has no plan for the “water future,” and while the state suffered a drought over the summer, planning for a future crisis needs to start now.
“Water and electricity are the backbone of any economy,” said Griffin. “Twenty percent of the world’s freshwater supply is in the Great Lakes. And Kosciusko County is well positioned in the Great Lakes Basin.”
The Great Lakes Basin includes all waterways that flow into the Great Lakes. A deal between surrounding states and Canadian provinces, called the Great Lakes Basin Compact, states that no water shall be removed from the Great Lakes Basin, with certain provisions for straddling counties and communities. However, water can be removed if it is packaged, bottled water for one example.
Indiana currently has approximately 800 water systems throughout the state, with only 15 percent being regulated. Griffin suggests regulation to identify where the water is, who has the greatest need for water and how to transport that water where it is needed most.
Another reason for regulation is the growing cost of water. Water has been the fastest growing utility since 1983 where it was even with electricity and natural gas costs. Now, it costs more than the other utilities combined.
While available water in northern Indiana isn’t an issue, central and southern Indiana, hard hit portions of the state, have low availability and a high demand. With the expansion of I-69, southern Indiana is expecting exponential economic growth. That growth will require water infrastructure that currently isn’t there.
“Indiana wants to push water future to attract businesses to the state,” said Griffin. “I suggest a policy statement to look at the water resources in Kosciusko County and determine how to best use it.”
The chamber plans to collect data and craft policy based on finds at their next meeting.