The 2012 Indiana General Assembly is over, but its impacts to the “state” of Indiana water are just beginning. Our legislators passed Senate Bill 0132, entitled “Water utility resource data”. Most people know this bill by the title of “Avon vs. West Central Conservancy District”. This bill now excludes an underground aquifer or water in an underground aquifer from the State’s definition of "watercourse".
However, the lasting effect of this bill is that the Indiana legislature has given the IURC the chore of collecting a lot of data from water utilities around the state, whether those utilities are under the IURC jurisdiction or not. The data includes the types of uses of water resources used by the utility and the utility’s operations and maintenance costs. The IURC is directed to report to the Legislative Council and to include in the IURC’s Annual Report on water and wastewater industries provided to the regulatory flexibility committee. The reports are to include use aggregate data to protect confidential information by of the individual water utilities and include recommendations concerning the use of financial resources by water utilities, necessary infrastructure investments by the utilities and actions to minimize impacts on rates.
The WUC testified at the legislative hearing encouraging the bill’s passage (of the non Avon related portion) in order to promote water resource planning throughout the state, reminding the legislators that last year, much of southern Indiana experienced serious drought conditions and the Indianapolis area has had conditions that limited the use of water.
With SB 132 passage, the WUC is cooperating with the IURC and scheduled presentations at the various Spring District meetings. Joseph Sutherland, IURC Executive Director, made those presentations. Also, Mr. Sutherland presented this topic at the Indiana Rural Water Association’s Spring meeting. To download a copy of his presentation, click here.
On another note, the IGA passed HB 1002 – A bill to Eliminate Boards and Commissions, which will eliminate the Water Pollution Control Board as well as the Air Pollution Control Board and Solid Waste Management Board and have created an Environmental Rules Board.
All in all, it was a busy short session.