Four Steps to Improve Our Waters

Updated:

On August 14-15, the second annual Indiana Water Summit was held with a targeted goal in mind: to propose solutions for water quality and availability issues facing Indiana. Hosted by the White River Alliance, the leading organization for regional water resource protection in Indiana, the event brought together a variety of dynamic speakers and experts from across the country to build upon the important conversations that started at last year’s statewide Water Summit. The focus and determination among the more than 250 participants was palpable as strategies emerged.

In early July, prior to this year’s Water Summit, several pre-Summit forums and stakeholder meetings were held to advance the leading interests that came out of last year’s event. Participants developed a detailed roadmap outlining cooperative strategies across all water sectors that was subsequently rolled out at the Water Summit.

The Water Summit and the pre-Summit forums are a powerful first step in protecting our shared water future, as they have created a designated space for critical conversations. Below are four key actions that must be advanced to improve and protect our water now and for the future.

Continue to educate the public and build public will.

Nobody would argue that safe water isn’t needed to make our dinners or to wash our beloved pets. And it’s clear that we need enough water to keep the industries that employ us running. The essential roles that water plays in our daily lives are almost endless, and it is imperative that we work cooperatively across the state with education partners and media professionals to continue to drive home the irreplaceable value of our water supply.

One of the pre-Summit forums brought together non-traditional educators, including representatives from the Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Zoo, Conner Prairie, local parks departments, as well as many others to begin working together on this critical task. We must prioritize building personal connections to water that will inspire individual action and garner support for community-based conservation strategies.

Based on their contributions at the Water Summit, it was evident that our State legislative leaders are also thinking hard about how water connects our communities, drives economies and influences investment decisions.  Leaders and policy-makers represent and act upon the values expressed by their constituents. If we want to ensure a strong water future, we need to build widespread awareness and allow that awareness to permeate our collective decision-making.

Start conversations among diverse water users. 

During the second of the three pre-Summit forums, significant water users from a variety of industries came together to discuss large-scale water use and the strategies they employ to conserve water. These users included golf course superintendents, gravel mine operators, professionals from industries like Eli Lilly and Elanco, public utilities managers and others. The forum exposed these users to industry counterparts with whom they don’t normally interact, creating a shared sense of responsibility to protect the large amount of water they all use. Conversations like these are crucial to best managing our water supply and guaranteeing its long-term viability.

Switch to conservation farming practices for economic and environmental win-wins.

A panel of award-winning farmers at the Summit explained how their conservation farming strategies have increased profits for them in both the short and long run. For example, one life-long Hamilton County farmer has seen a net profit per acre of $57.76 since switching to conservation farming practices. His transition and increased profit was particularly gained through the use of cover crops, which are planted to manage soil erosion, fertility, quality, and reduce irrigation needs. The farmer showcased how these efforts have brought about a 254 percent return on investment through annual benefits, such as reduced fertilizer expenses and increased yields, and long-term benefits, such as drought tolerance, increased carbon content in the soil and erosion reduction.

With agriculture contributing an estimated $31.2 billion to Indiana’s economy, according to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, it’s important to recognize what we can be doing to help our farmers and the overall farming environment in Indiana.

Plan and prepare for water crises now.

At the Water Summit, flooding was identified as the largest looming concern, according to climate scientists affiliated with the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. We are not properly prepared for the risks, costs and economic impacts tied to the eminent threat that stormwater presents to our communities and ecosystems. There is an urgent need for Indiana to elevate the value it places on floodplains, wetlands and more sustainable stormwater management practices, as these features alone comprise the critical infrastructure needed to address the risks we face.

Hosting regional and statewide conversations like the Water Summit and the Summit’s interim forums are critical to fostering cooperation across different water user groups. The White River Alliance plans to continue to facilitate these types of connections through additional forums and roundtable discussions, as well as with the third Water Summit event in 2020. To submit your water planning ideas, or to get involved with next year’s Summit, visit www.thewhiteriveralliance.org.

  • Perspectives

    • What’s Your Biggest Waste of Money?

      Americans are in the age of reducing waste. There’s a big push to purchase sustainable products, reduce our usage of plastics, and recycle. But has this trend carried over to our personal finances?  Not really.  In a study by The Ascent, the financial expertise arm of The Motley Fool, more than 60 percent of respondents felt they have wasteful financial tendencies. Why is that?

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • The IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering will now be named for Fred Luddy for his $60M gift. (photo courtesy James Brosher/IU)

      $60M Gift to Fund AI Center

      An Indiana University alumnus who founded the information technology firm, ServiceNow, has given his alma mater $60 million to establish an artificial intelligence center. The university says the gift from cloud-computing pioneer Fred Luddy is the second largest in the history of the IU.

    • (Image of downtown Shelbyville courtesy of Mainstreet Shelbyville Inc.)

      Shelbyville Unveils Major Downtown Redevelopment

      The city of Shelbyville is announcing what it calls a major downtown redevelopment project to boost overall quality of life. The project plans feature green spaces, increased parking, market-rate housing, and infrastructure for public entertainment and community events. 

    • (photo courtesy Purdue University)

      Purdue Professor Pleads Guilty to $1.3M Fraud Case

      A Purdue University professor and his wife have pleaded guilty last week to using more than $1 million in federal research funds for their own personal expenses. Federal prosecutors say Qingyou Han of West Lafayette and his wife Lu Shao of Lakewood, Ohio pleaded guilty to a felony wire fraud charge in federal court in Hammond. 

    • POET ethanol co. announced in Aug 2019 it was closing the plant in Cloverdale. (photo courtesy: POET)

      Cloverdale Ethanol Plant Closes

      South Dakota-based POET LLC, the nation’s largest biofuels producer, is moving forward with a plan to shut down its biorefining plant in Cloverdale, leaving 50 Hoosiers without jobs effective Friday. The company tells Inside INdiana Business that it is not making any changes to the plans announced two months ago. 

    • The plant manufactured parts for the assembly of Ball Mason jars and other preserving containers. (photo courtesy WTHR-TV)

      Muncie Manufacturing Plant to Close

      A historic part of Muncie will soon be closing its doors. Our partners at WTHR-TV report New Jersey-based Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) has decided to close its manufacturing facility in the Delaware County city, which produces parts for the assembly of Ball Mason jars.