Water Shortage Task Force

March 27, 2009 Meeting Summary

A meeting of the Water Shortage Task was held on March 27, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EST) in Conference Room 1 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 1, 2009, task force meeting:

Discussion/Presentation Items:

1) Discussion of Water Use Priorities:

  • A draft copy of proposed Water Use Priorities was provided to the WSTF for discussion purposes. The Task Force believes the language may need to be more “forceful”, and recommended further review and revision of the proposed document. Further discussion will take place during a conference call scheduled for April 9, 2009.

2) Statewide Water Conservation Policy

3) Discussion of Base Flow Policy

  • Flows should be maintained to provide a minimum habitat which may be greater than 7Q10. In a perfect situation, all streams in state would be evaluated and minimum discharges would be assigned.
  • The Great Lakes Compact sets flow requirements for Salmonid Streams.
  • Comments from Bill James of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife were provided regarding the instream flow requirements to protect fish and wildlife resources.
  • Fishing represents a $1.3 billion dollar industry annually in Indiana, supporting 14,000 jobs and including about 1million participants.
  • Issue of minimum flows has not typically been addressed by Midwestern states due to relative abundance of water. However, there are some well developed policies in western states.
  • The Instream Flow Council meets to discuss policy, regulations and experiences with regard to minimum streamflow. Midwestern states are generally not involved in discussions.
  • Flow variability is important to fish. They become adapted to varying flows and it is necessary to retain key features of natural stream hydrograph.
  • Low flows create problems for fish production in streams which impacts other wildlife dependent upon fish.
  • 7Q10 discharge is usually considerably less than natural flow in a stream, and typically represents the worst case scenario. Aquatic community will be stressed.
  • Q80 streamflow is recommended as a trigger in the Purdue study that was completed for the 1994 Water Shortage Plan. 80% of the time, this streamflow will occur. Q80 and Q90 streamflows are used for regulatory purposes in the State of Texas. Q80 was used for establishing minimum flows on Elkhart River in Indiana a few years ago.
  • State of Indiana has the ability of establishing minimum streamflows under the provisions of IC 14-25-7.
  • For next WSTF Meeting, Q80 and 7Q10 definitions and information will be provided for review and discussion.
  • Real time data on USGS webpage has link to Q80 data.
  • WSTF may come up with a low flow policy for the state, but must also provide guidance/recommendations for regional or local policies.
  • Endangered species must be identified and unique needs must be determined.
  • State may want to follow lead of Great Lakes Compact and require return flow.

Upcoming Task Force Meeting

Next Water Shortage Task Force Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room 2 of the IGCS. Tentative agenda items include:

  • Discussion/Approval of Water Use Priorities; and
  • Discussion of Base Flow Policy.