The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) shared initial findings of an ongoing central Indiana water study conducted by Austin, Texas-based environmental and water resource consulting firm INTERA. The study will be complete by the end of the year. Results from the study will help the state and regional stakeholders confirm the best path forward for supporting continued growth in Lafayette and central Indiana. Initial findings of the first phase of INTERA’s study showed abundant water availability in the Greater Lafayette region.
“Indiana has an incredible network of rivers and aquifers, with abundant water throughout the state,” said Jack Wittman, INTERA Vice President and Principal Water Resources Hydrologist. “With the rising demand for water in central Indiana, we are confident that this is a viable water solution that will give cities and towns the needed access to a new water supply source while protecting those already connected to it and ensuring long-term viability. While there is more work ahead with our phased approach of testing prioritized sites, current mapping indicates we will likely see similar results as we go forward.”
The water study was initiated in conjunction with the development of the LEAP (Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace) District, IEDC’s planned technology and advanced manufacturing hub in Lebanon. In April, Eli Lilly and Company was the first company to break ground at LEAP Research and Innovation District where it will build a $3.7 billion pharmaceutical manufacturing campus. And while Lebanon currently has enough water to support the anchor Lilly investment and area water needs, additional water will be needed to support growth in the future for other industries in central Indiana and regions statewide.
“The IEDC is investing in this effort to support the growth of Indiana as a whole,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg. “Based on preliminary results from phase one of the study, the work being done is expected to benefit Lafayette, central Indiana, LEAP, and cities and towns along the proposed water pipeline. This is an investment for Hoosiers and will have a transformational return for generations to come.”
The intent to solve this impending water shortage and to accommodate future LEAP growth is to build a water pipeline that would move water from the Wabash Alluvial Aquifer, which is connected to the Wabash River, to central Indiana. The initial study found that the average flow rate of the Wabash River is 2 billion gallons per day (MGD). Additionally, the aquifer itself is deeper and wider than previous studies indicated. These factors, along with initial modeling, indicate that the aquifer will be able to support central Indiana demand without impacting the aquifer or the Wabash River.
“We have been meeting with key stakeholders to share these initial results and will continue to communicate with them and the community more broadly throughout the phased approach of the water study,” said Kurt Fullbeck, Vice President of Development Strategies with the IEDC.
Following this initial testing, the state will continue to provide updates as further analysis and more studies are conducted. Testing has been planned in order of priority with the next two additional sites identified to undergo study. Additional testing will take place during the fourth quarter of this year. Once all testing is complete, results will be further vetted by independent experts to ensure accuracy. This additional vetting is also expected to be complete by the end of 2023. After all results have been verified, the IEDC will partner with other state and local stakeholders to advance the project.
As phases of this study progress, the IEDC continues to work closely with relevant agencies and stakeholders to ensure any considered solution is sustainable and manages resources statewide most effectively.