Water Shortage Task Force

May 29, 2009 Meeting Summary

A meeting of the Water Shortage Task was held on May 29, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room 4 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 June 26, 2009, task force meeting:

Discussion/Presentation Items:

1) Discussion of Draft Copy of Water Use Priorities:

  • Task force suggested that more substance be added to items 1,4,5,8 of the Recommendations Section of the proposed document.
  • WSTF believes function of plan is for guidance during drought. Connecticut requires all user to look at impacts on surface and ground water, but is unsure “how far we can go” with this document.
  • Water use (surface and groundwater) summary information should be included in the Water Shortage Plan.
  • Water use priorities are only recommended. Regional water authorities will have to establish their own priorities. WSTF wants Legislature to “bless” these recommendations, or provide authority to accomplish them.
  • Some water supply utilities may ignore water use priorities unless mandated to develop them.
  • Items 1 through 9 in Recommendations Section must indicate “shall” rather than “should”. Also, the term “within next decade” replace “5 to 10 years” in last paragraph of proposed document. All WSTF members were in agreement with proposed changes to Water Use Priorities.

2) Discussion of Goals and Actions Summary Document:

  • There is a concern that the WSTF lacks the institutional authority to complete the tasks recommended in the Goals and Actions document. Regional bodies should complete tasks with support by institutional bodies (IDNR, IDEM, etc.). Funding might be issue.
  • State of Virginia has added 28 staff members to provide support for water planning (modeling, etc.). Texas has about 100 staff completing work. California has local assistance to complete work.
  • Actions should indicate implementation support by state agencies. Should include funding for “local assistance”.
  • Water users in Virginia pay $1,500.00 for permit that supports water planning efforts. Fees could help the State of Indiana complete its new mission of water planning. Item #5 should include funding of new “Division of Local Assistance”.
  • User fees may be contentious issue; however, IURC is funded by fees from PWS utilities. Could be fees for water use, pumping capacity, or from general funds.
  • USGS relies upon SWWF water use data and is concerned about fees and not receiving quality water use reports.
  • WSTF does not want to levy a “flat fee”, but fees must be as simple as possible. WSTF must promote user fees, and must have DNR support.
  • All WSTF members were in agreement with proposed revisions to draft Goals and Actions Summary document.

3)  Discussion of Base Flow Policy:

  • Summary of Discharge Data for Small and Large Streams in each climatic division showing Q80 and Q61med discharges were provided to task force members by USGS for discussion purposes. A Map of Drainage Basins of Gaging Stations Showing Endangered Species and Surface Water Intakes was also provided.
  • Instream flow requirements may not adequately address Base Flow Policy. If WSTF adopted a minimum flow requirement (Q90?) it might be an adequate “starting point”. State of Indiana may not have sufficient data or political will for more detailed analysis of ecosystem impacts.
  • IDNR, Division of Fish and Wildlife evaluation was not clear on where bar should be set for minimum streamflow; however, it should provide ecosystem protection. State of Texas uses Q90 discharge for minimum flow. Base flow policies must be established to protect species and to allow for minimum streamflow. DFW recommends Q80 as best “generic standard”.
  • Q80 may be used as a “trigger” mechanism, but should not encourage depletion of reservoirs to maintain streamflow with no significant purpose during drought. Decisions regarding minimum streamflows during drought should be left to regional planning
  • WSTF should recommend that Q80 discharge be used as trigger mechanism for the initiation of other policies, model ordinances, etc. WSTF must provide some guidance for regional authorities (may be more restrictive).
  • USGS is currently working on flow duration curves for various streams in state that would provide regional authorities with data to evaluate streamflow. Similar to coordinated discharge data for flooding.
  • When streamflow in Fall Creek (Indpls.) is diminished, the Indianapolis Water Co. is contacted by public works to release water for fish, etc. Indpls. has “artificially” elevated stream discharges. Must be careful when establishing minimum flows in these areas.
  • Minimum flows must be localized. Some Q80 discharges may be zero for certain stream reaches. Triggers would initiate local action.
  • WSTF recommends that the Q80 Flow Duration discharge value for the months of May through October be used as a “base flow trigger” to initiate local action. All five WSTF members present were in agreement. Draft language will be developed and provided to the task force for final approval prior to, or at the June WSTF Meeting.

Upcoming Task Force Meeting:

Next Water Shortage Task Force Meeting scheduled for Friday, June 26, 2009, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon (EDT) in Conference Room 2 of the IGCS. Tentative agenda items include:

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