Water Shortage Task Force

May 1, 2009 Meeting Summary

A meeting of the Water Shortage Task was held on May 1, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EST) in Conference Room 2 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 29, 2009, task force meeting:

Discussion/Presentation Items:

1) Discussion of Water Use Priorities:

  • A draft copy of Section VIII from the existing Water Shortage Plan was provided to the WSTF by Bill Etzler. Mr. Etzler believes the task force has gotten off track with regard to water use priorities and should review this section of the plan and provide comments during the next scheduled meeting.
  • “State Financed Reservoirs” should be defined within the Water Use Priorities section.
  • Guidance Section of Water Use Priorities should provide legislature an explanation of conservation and water reduction during a drought.
  • Public Safety reference should be more specific. Should include reference to fire suppression, etc.
  • The Definitions Section of the WSP must be updated to reflect additional terms included in updated plan.
  • A recommendation should be made that communities have a plan to address a water shortage. The development of the plan may be better addressed by the proposed Water Planning Task Force.
  • Public water supply utilities need statutory authority to respond to water shortage (rates, restrictions, etc.). Must be uniform state policy; implementation would be by local entities.

2) Discussion of “Issues and Actions” Document:

  • Preamble of document should indicate that at critical times, more than “encouraging” is necessary. Enforcement of local ordinances would be done by utility and law enforcement agency with legislative authority.
  • The WSTF should address policy and not specific implementation.
  • Indianapolis Water Company provides water to several other water suppliers through agreements. These agreements must require the curtailment of water usage as does the IWC.
  • Enforcement throughout nation ranges from water police to fine schedule. State should set standards that would be enforced locally. Must have input from both large and small water utilities.
  • If water shortage occurs now, does State (Governor) have authority to respond, and what response would be most effective? Should WSTF recommend that local communities have plans/ordinances?
  • Should be recommended that water purveyors have a water management plan in place. Plan and mechanism for implementation could be reviewed/approved/certified by WSTF or proposed Water Resources Task Force.
  • If guidelines are developed, water planning and restrictions, etc. might be included as part of “Emergency Response Plan” currently required under IDEM’s Wellhead Protection Program. WHP program provides good methodology as it deals with source water protection. Plans might address susceptibility of source and response to shortage.
  • Must have mandatory local plans. State must step in when water resource conflicts occur and require water use bans (not just price increases). Local ordinances can be tools during water shortage.
  • Regional Water Authorities should be developed. There are three municipal water purveyors in Marion County that are not connected.
  • Water users must be made aware of water shortage issues. Message must be sold to public. Most effective way to deal with water shortage is to get information out quickly and by a credible source (Mayor, etc.).
  • Current response to drought: Governor would call for water use reduction (10%, etc.). IDEM could help utilities meet the reductions, but would not address other usages (power, irrigation, etc.).

3) Discussion of Base Flow Policy

  • Handouts providing definitions and streamflow calculations for various stream reaches were provided to task force members for discussion purposes. Also provided was Section B of the Water Shortage Plan regarding the Utilization of Minimum Streamflow.
  • Existing Water Shortage Plan uses Q75, Q90 and Q95 for drought declarations.
  • It is recommended that one stream in each of the nine climatic regions be evaluated and provided as an example to Legislature.
  • Existing Section 8 update (Water Use Priorities) does not address minimum streamflow.
  • Endangered species must be identified for each stream in the state. Some streams may be allowed to dry up during a drought while other streamflows may need to be protected by IDNR and IDEM.
  • How does 7Q10 relate to stream discharges and withdrawals, and does apply to an unaltered stream?
  • Should the WSTF encourage Q80? Releases from reservoirs may have to be increased to provide minimum flows, and may be contrary to “conservation” goals.
  • USEPA website provides information on dry conditions in San Francisco area, and the conservation efforts. Water rates may be increased 10%.
  • Ethanol production is being encouraged in the U.S. (10% to 15% increase). Many new wells are being installed for water supply and for corn production.

Upcoming Task Force Meeting:

Next Water Shortage Task Force Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 29, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room 4 of the IGCS. Tentative agenda items include:

  • Discussion/Approval of Water Use Priorities;
  • Discussion/Approval of “Issues and Actions Summary”; and
  • Discussion of Base Flow Policy.