$127 million in federal funding for Indiana water infrastructure projects
Published: Dec 9, 2021 / 07:48 PM ITS T
/ Updated: Dec 9, 2021 – 07:48 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS – The US Environmental Protection Agency says Indiana will receive $ 127 million to improve the state’s water infrastructure.
The funds are allocated by the bipartisan infrastructure law, which was signed by President Biden last month.
Water infrastructure has been on the minds of some Indiana legislators for a while. The improvements needed in the Hoosier state run into the billions of dollars, a task force created by the Indiana General Assembly found earlier this year.
“In some corners of our state, we still transport water to homes on wooden lines and old infrastructure,” said State Senator Andy Zay (R-Huntington).
And experts say the needs are different in each community.
“When there are dozens and dozens of individual utilities, it is simply not a homogeneous approach to maintenance, and the resources available for utilities vary widely,” said Sally Letsinger, associate research scientist in the University’s geography department. from Indiana.
According to the EPA, federal funds will be used for projects that replace or upgrade old pipes and equipment and prevent lead and PFAS contamination.
“With our infrastructure so old, there are areas that still have lead pipes,” said Brian Neilson, a member of the White River Alliance executive board, calling the new funding “exciting” for Indiana.
Still, state lawmakers say there is much more work to be done beyond what this law will fund.
Earlier this year, the State Legislature’s Task Force on Investment in Wastewater and Service Infrastructure for Underserved Areas examined water infrastructure, making several recommendations to raise the necessary funds and address other issues.
“A more realistic look at rates,” explained State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford). “Also, whether for certain systems, different ways of operating that could include shared services or partnerships.”
“We don’t have enough experience and employees throughout the state of Indiana to manage our wastewater plants,” said State Senator Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis).
Koch and Qaddoura said they plan to introduce legislation to address some of these issues in the next session. But they acknowledge that they will have to wait until the budget is rewritten in 2023 to propose additional state funding.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said he sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb asking him to make sure underserved communities are prioritized for funding.