Water Shortage Task Force

April 18, 2008 Meeting Summary

A meeting of the Water Shortage Task was held on April 18, 2008, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room A of the IGCS in Indianapolis. The following is a brief summary of discussion topics, presentations, suggested action items, motions, and a proposed agenda for the upcoming May 16, 2008, task force meeting:

Committee Updates:

No Committee Meetings were conducted; No updates made.

Discussion/Presentation Items:

1. Proposed adoption of Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) as drought index for Indiana:  Draft language was presented for SPI to replace existing reference to PDHI in Water Shortage Plan. Language is being reviewed by Task Force members for discussion at May, 2008, meeting.

  • Stream flow exceedance values will remain the same unless adjusted by task force during evaluation of low flow criteria.
  • Drought Monitor can be utilized for localized evaluation; is defensible for drought determinations on a county level.
  • SPI is more reactive than PDHI. SPI is computed for 9 Climatic Areas in State and can be used on a smaller scale with precipitation gages having 30-plus years of data.
  • Task Force requested that a list of precipitation gages with 30-plus years of record be provided to members.
  • Task Force recommended that a map of the 9 Climatic Regions be overlayed with the 12 Water Management Basins.
  • Money for climatic data acquisition is needed in Indiana. Task Force can recommend financial support for more gage sites.

2. Water Management Planning Areas: For discussion purposes, task force member Jack Wittman identified three regions of the state where groups could be formed to conduct water supply planning. 1) Northwest Region – area of significant growth and surface water use from Lake Michigan with an existing institutional organization (NIRPC) that has water supply planning group. 2) Central Region - group of counties already communicate with each other. This area of the State has significant growth with the potential for surface water conflicts. The Center for Urban Policy and the Environment is currently set up to deal with water issues in this area. 3) Southwest Region - This area of the state has particular water supply issues. The area includes metropolitan area of Evansville and also contains Patoka Regional Water.

  • May be advantageous to designate county boundaries as water supply planning areas.
  • Must be able to identify water supply problems in the entire state; regions only represent part of the state.
  • States of Texas and Virginia have been divided for water planning purposes. Illinois has currently identified two critical water planning areas.
  • Indianahas River Basin Commissions for St. Joseph, Maumee, Ohio, etc. that could potentially be designated as management areas.
  • Must identify relationship between available climatologic and hydrologic data in the state prior to going forward with plan.
  • Develop map overlaying 12 basins, 9 climatic regions and water supply planning areas. Priority regions should be identified.
  • Task Force may recommend that at commission be formed to look at water supply planning. Commission would be composed of representatives from throughout the state.
  • Prime goal of Task Force is to define water shortage areas, not necessarily planning areas. Must be careful not to prohibit transfer of water across basin or political boundaries. Basins represent supply; planning areas represent demand.
  • What is proposed should look at resolution to water supply problem. Existing 12 basins may be good for identifying problem, but not for response. Planning regions can identify response to drought/ water shortage.
  • Task force must recommend to Legislature that certain areas of State need to evaluate water supply. Water Shortage Plan currently set up to identify drought and existing water users, but no entity to respond. Water planning regions would identify demand. Must look at statewide division; recommend other regions of the state to be divided.

3. Water Conservation Education and Outreach: The Water Conservation Subcommittee recognized the need for public education and outreach. Several websites exist that provide conservation information. IDNR’s existing webpage must be updated to highlight conservation information, and the conservation measures in the current Water Shortage Plan must be revised. Conservation information has been provided to all SWWF’s in the state with the 2007 water use mailing. EPA has developed detailed guidelines for public water supply systems that outline conservation measures, and the ability of funding for the development of conservation plans. IURC is currently working with Indiana-American and Veolia Water to develop water conservation plans.

  • The City of Indianapolis has developed an ordinance for water conservation (Resolution #7) for Marion County. The ordinance was recently approved by the Board of Water Works, and will also be applicable to the 19 surrounding water supply utilities that receive water from Indianapolis Water. The proposed ordinance will now go before the City County Council for approval.
  • Must look at what impact conservation messages have on different users, and how can the message be enhanced.
  • Public information regarding conservation can be provided to the public, but it must also present economic incentives. Task force can look at work done by other states.
  • Before requesting conservation by customers, public water supply utilities must address “unaccounted for” water in their own systems.
  • Water conservation by public water supply utilities will help to eliminate need for capital costs.

4. Evaluation of Low Flow Criteria: Indiana Department of Environmental Management programs are based upon 7Q10 criteria. Ron McAhron asked IDEM if identifying other minimum flow criteria would impact their programs (NPDES) and require public water systems to alter their treatment requirements. “Special waters” have been identified in the Great Lakes Compact.

  • DNR is charged with fish and wildlife concerns. Task force should look at recommendations with regard to fish and wildlife interests rather than using 7Q10. Discharge standards do not always protect fish. Many were killed during 1988 drought and NPDES permits were not violated. Water planning areas may be able to address this issue on a smaller scale.
  • Stream dilution issue exists for just a few streams. Recommendations made by the task force will not impact IDEM’s programs.
  • A site specific goal for stream flow should be developed if a site specific flow is needed. DNR does not have enforcement capability under current water withdrawal registration program.
  • Task force should recommend that local groups have protective authority and establish policies for certain drainage areas (can be defined by DNR). Must allow for exception to statewide recommendations.

5. USGS Gage Network Funding: Bill Guertal of the USGS provided a brief update their agency’s stream and ground water monitoring program (172 stream gages and 37 wells). DNR is major cooperator in program. USGS is investigating other sources of data for inclusion in network.

  • Indiana Monitoring Council will be officially “kicked off” at the upcoming May 14, 2008, IWRA Meeting in Bloomington.
  • Task force will recommend line item budgeting for funding of gage network

Upcoming Task Force Meeting:

Next Water Shortage Task Force Meeting scheduled for May 16, 2008, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room A of the IGCS. Tentative agenda items include:

  • Approval of SPI as Drought Trigger for Water Shortage Plan;
  • Evaluation of Consumptive Use Criteria; and
  • Discussion of Water Management Planning Areas.