Protecting Our Water Resources
By: Spencer Deery
Last night I joined 400 others at a meeting in Shadeland for a discussion about the proposal from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to transfer large amounts of water from Tippecanoe County to Lebanon, primarily for the LEAP project in Boone County. IEDC officials were on hand to present results from the first phase of its aquifer feasibility testing.
Toward the end, local leaders were invited to say a few impromptu words. I made it clear in my comments that I share the concerns of those in attendance, and I am working hard on legislation to protect our region from anything that would harm our wells, our own economic development, or the vitality of our aquifers and rivers.
While I strongly believe economic development should be among the state’s highest priorities, and that we must never slip into the very human habit of opposing new ideas just because they are different and generate questions, it is completely reasonable for the people and leaders of Senate District 23 to have our doubts resolved before we support such a project. After all, our district contains more of the Wabash River than any Senate district in the state.
I have a long and substantial list of boxes that I would need checked before I could support such a project. They include the following:
Protecting rural communities downstream: Will there be adverse impacts to rural Indiana, especially downstream as the Wabash flows through District 23? Farmers and well owners need to be protected.
Protecting economic growth in Greater Lafayette: Would the project leave enough water for greater Lafayette’s booming population as well as our own developing chips industry and economic growth?
Establishing rules for future water transfers: Indiana lacks adequate laws and safeguards to keep water transfers from occurring in reckless quantities or for unworthwhile projects. This must be fixed.
Protecting tax dollars and property rights: Pipelines are expensive, and we need more answers about how the pipeline will be financed.
Promoting a transparent and accountable IEDC: As water decisions are made, who is making them and who will be held accountable for the merits of those decisions? With great power and large budgets come the need for accountability to the people. Have neutral experts been given the data to conduct a peer-review of IEDC’s conclusions?
Environmental health for future generations: How will the rate of water recharge compare to the rate of withdrawal, and what are the implications if the aquifer is diminished?
Some of these boxes can only be checked by legislation (which I am working on), and some by neutral experts who should be involved in this process. You have my commitment to do everything I can to get the answers we need and to protect our interests, while also supporting our state’s economic development as much as we prudently can.
If there are other concerns or questions I should consider, please share them by email at [email protected] or by phone at 317-232-9517.
Supporting Healthy Hoosier Families
One of my priorities as your state senator is ensuring families are well-supported. This is why I was pleased to pass a new state budget providing financial resources to community-based organizations throughout Indiana that work to foster healthier, happier families.
These organizations include:
- Real Alternatives, which provides wraparound services to pregnant women and new mothers;
- The Nurse-Family Partnership, which provides nurse home visits to expectant mothers;
- All Pro Dad, which promotes responsible fatherhood; and
- The Indiana Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs.
The budget also funds important public programs like Safety PIN grants and My Healthy Baby, which now serve pregnant women in all 92 counties. The budget also includes financial support for parents by expanding the income tax exemption for new dependents and continuing to fund an adoption credit, which was increased tenfold by the General Assembly in 2022.
Healthy families are critical to the success of our young people, and I will continue to support efforts ensuring Indiana remains a great place to raise a family.
– Spencer Deery is an Indiana State Senator serving District 23 which includes Fountain, Parke, Vermillion, Warren and portions of Montgomery and Tippecanoe counties.