STATEHOUSE—Legislation sponsored by Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) concerning reporting requirements for water utility service passed the Indiana House of Representatives with a 70-27 vote today.
Senate Bill (SB) 132 would require each water utility that provides water service to the public in Indiana for a fee to annually submit a report to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) detailing the types of water resources used and the utility’s operation and maintenance costs.
“This legislation is the first step in developing a long-term statewide water usage and conservation plan,” said Rep. Wolkins. “Indiana currently has an abundant water supply, but one extended draught or excessive economic development could quickly put our state in a bad position. We need to begin planning for extending situations now – annual water utility reporting requirements to the IURC will help us begin inventorying our resources.”
SB 132 would also change the definition of the term “watercourse” to exclude underground aquifers. This would overturn the Indiana Supreme Court from November 2011 ruling allowing an incorporated city or town to regulate any aquifer up to 10 miles beyond their incorporated limits.
“Including underground water in the definition of a watercourse could create a gold rush where cities and towns are laying claim on these aquifers. Too many municipalities are within that 10 mile limit of one another, bringing up the question of who has the right to these water resources.”
SB 132 was amended during House discussion, so the bill now returns to the Senate for approval. If approved, it will be sent to the governor’s office for his signature to be signed into law. If the changes are not accepted, it will be discussed in conference committees consisting of representatives from both caucuses from each chamber.