INDIANAPOLIS - The White River Alliance will host its Indiana Water Summit starting Wednesday at Conner Prairie in Fishers. Now in its second year, the forum is an open discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing waterways, including the White River.

According to the alliance, the goal of the summit is to lay framework for state and regional-level planning to protect the river watershed which covers approximately 2,700 square miles and stretches into 16 counties in central Indiana.

University researchers will present their work on water issues and the science behind it. Other speakers will address the challenges facing various water users, including agriculture, industry and municipalities.

One of the panels will include three central Indiana farmers who will discuss what steps they’ve implemented on their farms to reduce runoff, eliminate soil erosion, and reduce fertilizer use. According to WRA’s website, farmer Mike Starkey will be one of those farmers.

He’s a sixth-generation farmer who farms just west of Indianapolis. His farm drains into a stream which eventually feeds into Eagle Creek reservoir, a primary source for Indianapolis’ municipal water system.

Of his conservation story, Starkey says it didn’t happen overnight and not without help, “my legacy as a conservationist is to improve and protect the borrowed living soil that God has given us and to keep our clean and pure as the raindrops that fall from the sky.”

Following the open session at Conner Prairie on Wednesday, the business meeting moves to downtown Indy on Thursday.

The White River Alliance is an association of public and private groups and agencies focused on the health and quality of the White River, watershed and the tributaries feeding into the river.