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Report on Indiana Water Use Efficiency and Conservation

Indiana has committed to promote environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures such as:

  • Measures that promote efficient use of water;
  • Identification and sharing of best management practices and state of the art conservation and efficiency technologies;
  • Application of sound planning principles;
  • Encourage implementation of demand-side and supply side measure or incentives; and
  • Development, transfer, and application of science and research.

Indiana Statewide Goals for Water Conservation & Efficiency - As stated in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement

Basin-wide goals and objectives developed by the Great Lakes Council and adopted by the State of Indiana as Indiana Code 14-25-15, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Included in the adopted Statute are the objectives based on the following goals:

  1. Ensuring improvement of the waters and water dependent natural resources;
  2. Protecting and restoring the hydrologic and ecosystem integrity of the Basin;
  3. Retaining the quantity of surface water and groundwater in the Basin;
  4. Ensuring sustainable use of waters of the Basin; and,
  5. Promoting the efficiency of use and reducing losses and waste of water.

Indiana Statewide Water Conservation & Efficiency Objectives

Guide programs toward long-term sustainable water use.

  • Use adaptive programs that are goal-based, accountable and measurable.
  • Develop and implement programs openly and collaboratively, including with local stakeholders, Tribes and First Nations, governments and the public.
  • Prepare and maintain long-term water demand forecasts.
  • Develop long-term strategies that incorporate water conservation and efficient water use.
  • Review and build upon existing planning efforts by considering practices and experiences from other jurisdictions.

Adopt and implement supply and demand management to promote efficient use and conservation of water resources.

  • Maximize water use efficiency and minimize waste of water.
  • Promote appropriate innovative technology for water reuse.
  • Conserve and manage existing water supplies to prevent or delay the demand for and development of additional supplies.
  • Provide incentives to encourage efficient water use and conservation.
  • Include water conservation and efficiency in the review of proposed new or increased uses when required by rule.
  • Promote investment in and maintenance of efficient water infrastructure and green infrastructure.

Improve monitoring and standardize data reporting.

  • Improve the measurement and evaluation of water conservation and water use efficiency.
  • Encourage measures to monitor, account for, and minimize water loss.
  • Track and report program progress and effectiveness.

Develop science, technology and research.

  • Encourage the identification and sharing of innovative management practices and state of the art technologies.
  • Encourage research, development and implementation of water use and efficiency and water conservation technologies.
  • Seek a greater understanding of traditional knowledge and practices of Basin First Nations and Tribes.
  • Strengthen scientific understanding of the linkages between water conservation practices and ecological responses.

Develop education programs and information sharing for all water users.

  • Ensure equitable public access to water conservation and efficiency tools and information.
  • Inform, educate and increase awareness regarding water use, conservation and efficiency and the importance of water. Promote the cost-saving aspect of water conservation and efficiency for both short-term and long-term economic sustainability.
  • Share conservation and efficiency experiences, including successes and lessons learned across the Basin.
  • Enhance and contribute to regional information sharing.
  • Encourage and increase training opportunities in collaboration with professional or other organizations in order to increase water conservation and efficiency practices and technological applications.
  • Ensure that conservation programs are transparent and that information is readily available.
  • Aid in the development and dissemination of sector-based best management practices and results achieved.

Indiana Water Use and Conservation & Efficiency Programs

Water Use Program

Indiana has in place a registration and reporting program for Significant Water Withdrawal Facilities (SWWF) that collects information with regard to the location, type of use, and quantity of water use.

With the enactment of Indiana Code 14-25-7 (Water Resource Management Act) by the 1983 Indiana General Assembly, the Natural Resources Commission is required to "take and maintain an inventory of significant uses of water withdrawn from the surface or ground". Section 15 of the act requires that every person who owns a significant water withdrawal facility (SWWF) shall register it on forms provided by the commission within three (3) months after the facility is completed. A "significant water withdrawal facility" is defined in the act to mean "the water withdrawal facilities of a person that, in the aggregate from all sources and by all methods, has the capability of withdrawing more than one hundred thousand (100,000) gallons of ground water, surface water, or ground and surface water combined in one (1) day". The owner of a SWWF must also report annual water use within three (3) months after the end of each calendar year.

Water Shortage Task Force - Indiana’s Water Shortage Plan

In 2006 the Indiana General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 369, codified as Indiana Code 14-25-14 which required the Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to appoint a Water Shortage Task Force (WSTF). The ten-member WSTF was charged with developing and implementing an updated water shortage plan and to address other surface water and ground water issues.

The purpose of the Indiana Water Shortage Plan is to provide the State of Indiana with an effective and systematic plan to assess and manage the State’s water resources during a water shortage or potential water shortage and to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to the needs of its water users while protecting its environment. It is intended to serve as a tool for the State of Indiana to guide the use and management of the State’s water resource as the availability of that resource diminishes during events such as drought. While portions of the plan may be utilized to address localized water shortages caused by isolated events (i.e. loss of a primary well or wells or a reservoir dropping to critical levels) it is presumed that the document will be most useful in addressing regional water shortages which typically result from drought events.

Conservation Elements Included in Indiana’s Water Shortage Plan

Indiana Water Conservation Plan- The Indiana Water Conservation Plan recognizes that Indiana’s abundant water resources are a public good for all citizens of the State, and promotes the efficient use of this water by encouraging environmentally sound and economically feasible conservation measures to ensure availability for future generations.

Suggested Model Ordinance- The Model Ordinance describes a variety of water conservation measures including good management practices, potential price increases for water during times of shortage, and enforced rationing during periods of extreme water shortage. While some of the conservation measures in the ordinance may not apply to all situations or locations, their purpose is to encourage wise use of the resource and to minimize the impacts of seasonal or short-term water shortages.

Voluntary Conservation & Efficiency Outreach & Education Efforts Targeting Significant Water Withdrawal Facilities through Existing Annual Water Use Reporting Program

  • 2008: Outreach and education material was broad in scope. Information was mailed to all registered SWWFs within the Great Lakes Basin and Statewide. The mailings provided an overview of the newly adopted Great Lakes Compact as well conservation and efficiency goals and objectives.
  • 2009: Educational efforts focused on SWWFs realizing that conservation efforts are potentially most effective where water use is greatest. Specific water use categories within the SWWF program were mailed information applicable to their registered use category.
  • 2010: Water use management for conservation and efficiency checklist surveys were mailed to all registered SWWFs. The checklist survey consisted of suggested Best Management Practices (BMPs) for conservation and efficiency that might be considered by a facility according to its water use category. The list was intended as a guide and should not be considered complete or mandatory, SWWFs indicated whether a particular BMP was currently in use, planned for the near future, or neither. A space for open ended responses was included as no one set of BMPs would be appropriate or applicable to all facilities.

    View the Checklist Surveys by Water Use Category:

Examples of suggested Best Management Practices include:

  • Appointment of a Water Conservation Manager and development of a Water Management Plan.
  • Whole System Maintenance - Identification of leaks in delivery and distribution, preservation of optimal operation pressure, maintaining gauges in good working order, testing regularly, system calibration, identification and repair of pressure problems.
  • System Controls Improvement - Implementation of a comprehensive water accounting and loss control program including system inspections, universal metering, and leak detection and repair. Processes that use large volumes of water for washing, rinsing or cooling should be outfitted with a dedicated water meter.
  • Accurate metering at all levels is essential.
  • Identify and Prioritize opportunities to reduce or reuse water such as: cooler flush water, rinse water, backwash water, floor and gutter wash water, turning off all flows during shutdowns, and the use solenoid valves to stop the flow of water when a process stops.
  • Water Use Audits - Good conservation programs depend on accurate use data. Conducting water use audits assesses water demand on a system by system or process by process basis; the goal is to generate a set of data that profiles water demand at all stages.
  • Educating and Involving employees in water conservation initiatives. Invite presentations and seminars by appropriate agencies or organizations.
  • Consideration of reclaimed wastewater distribution systems for non-potable purposes.
  • View 2010 Conservation and Efficiency Survey Results by Water Use Category
  • Water Use Management for Conservation & Efficiency - Indiana Significant Water Withdrawal Facilities
  • Irrigation Management Practices for Conserving Water, Nutrients & Energy

    View Checklist Charts by Water Use Category:

Note: Raw Data Sets may be available by request to

  • 2011: SWWFs were provided with a brief summary of the 2010 conservation and efficiency survey results; included was a follow-up survey to provide additional information based on the 2010 results to develop ongoing conservation and efficiency education, and an update on rule development. All SWWFs are asked to provide an email address to further enhance communications and information sharing.

Water Management Planning Frameworks

Water Management Planning Frameworks were developed toassist water users with their conservation planning efforts, especially those registered as SWWFs. The frameworks are guidance documents that are individualized for each water use category (Industrial, Irrigation, Public Water Supply, and Rural & All Others) and are directed at facilities with no current conservation program. The frameworks encourage facilities to more readily develop & implement conservation and efficiency programs on a voluntary basis, and assists with ongoing program evaluation.

Administrative Rule Development and Adoption for IC 14-25-15:

  • During 2011 and 2012, Emergency Rules temporarily added non-code provisions to amend 312 IAC 6.2 to assist with the implementation of Article 4 of the Great Lakes Compact to: 1) address registration and permitting of water withdrawal facilities within the Great Lakes Basin; 2) implement and regulate a water withdrawal, diversion or consumptive use that is subject to registration or permitting under IC 14-25-15; 3) administer water conservation and efficiency measures within the Basin; and 4) promote and encourage environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures by water users consistent with the conservation and efficiency objectives set forth in Resolution 5 of the Great Lakes Compact.  Rule 312 IAC 6.2 also  implements a voluntary program for promoting water conservation and efficiency for any person with a water withdrawal facility in the Basin of Indiana, and a mandatory program for promoting water conservation and efficiency for a person with a water withdrawal facility that is subject to the regulation under IC 14-25-15 or associated rules.

News of Ongoing Local Conservation Efforts

  • Michiana Irrigation Association met with DNR to discuss reasonable usage reduction goals for irrigators operating within the Great Lakes Basin and discuss behavioral versus mechanical means to accomplish those goals. The association indicates that irrigators in the area are adopting the use of ‘low-pressure’ center pivot systems to reduce evaporation rates and water loss; which in addition to providing for conservation are also providing positive externalities of lowering energy use and lowering associated pumping costs. Irrigation scheduling is being implemented with success and with the planting of drought tolerant hybrids is resulting in an overall reduction in crop water demand.
  • Water Conservation Planning Efforts by Public Water Suppliers
    • Valparaiso, IN: Passed the “Water Conservation Plan for Valparaiso City” by the Valparaiso City Utilities Board of Directors on May 11, 2010
    • Michigan City, IN: Beginning to develop a conservation program

Additional Resources for Water Conservation & Efficiency and Water Use Management


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