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Skeptics reacted negatively to Holcomb’s call for a study on moving water for a project in Boone County



Indianapolis, Indiana – The supervision of a water study was transferred from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to the Indiana Finance Authority by an order issued by Governor Eric Holcomb last week.

The public will be made aware of his acts, according to the Stop the Water Steal group, regarding the attempt to build a pipeline from north central Indiana for a development project northwest of Indianapolis.

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

To find out if there is enough water in an underground aquifer to support the LEAP Lebanon Innovation District, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. paid $10 million. The $3.7 billion project by the pharmaceutical behemoth Lilly, based in Indianapolis, is part of the massive industrial expansion in Boone County.

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.”

January is when the study is supposed to be finished.

Residents complained that the iron in the water had blocked the filters and that the once-clean well water started to smell like rotten eggs.

Plans to transfer water from northwest central Indiana to the Boone County project have been formally opposed by the city councils of Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Attica.

At least 12 counties—Benton, Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Montgomery, Parke, Tipton, Vermillion, Warren, and White—must expand their testing programs in accordance with the governor’s directive.

In order to provide real-time data on water usage, the order also mandates the installation of additional water monitoring devices in the testing zones.

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?“


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