Immediate Release: March 29, 2017
In a forward-thinking move to protect water resources, both houses of the
Indiana State Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 1211 this session which
establishes an Indiana-Kentucky water authority to study ownership rights of
the resources shared by the states. The bill was authored by
Representative Steven Stemler, (D) Jeffersonville.
“This is the sixth year I have proposed a
trans-border water resources authority bill and I am very pleased that it
passed through the legislature unanimously,” Rep. Stemler said. “House Bill
1211 specifically addresses the security, availability, and future of our water
resources for generations to come.”
The established authority will consist of 12 officials from
the General Assembly, ex officio members, and individuals appointed by the
Governor. This group will study the subject of ownership rights of shared water
resources and offer recommendations.
Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Iris Wilbur testified in
favor of the bill along with One Southern Indiana President Wendy Dant Chesser
and representatives from the Louisville Water Company.
“Communities in Southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville
region owe a large portion of our economic development to our abundant
water resources,” Wilbur testified. “For this reason, it is of the utmost
importance that we protect the longevity and sustainability of
our regional water resources.”
The Greater Louisville Region was founded due to the commerce
passing through at the Falls of the Ohio. The large industrial base in Southern
Indiana and Louisville has been drawn over the years by the promise of an
abundant water supply.
“This bill is the first step in making sure we are working
together to actively protect our water, the natural resource that makes this
region attractive to businesses and people,” Dant Chesser said.
HB 1211 was drafted to avoid ongoing fights over water that the
country has witnessed in western and southern states. Beginning as early
as the 1980s, Florida entered into conflict with Georgia over the ACF River
Basin incurring tens of millions of dollars in legal fees. It’s estimated that
Florida’s expenses have reached $41 million in 2017, with $72 million in legal
fees incurred since 2001. Taking a reactive approach to water resource
management, these states found themselves in a protracted court battle that
will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.
Disputes over rights to water can become heated in times of
prolonged drought. While Indiana and Kentucky have not yet had such disputes,
it is GLI and One Southern Indiana’s position that exploring what provisions
should be made for such an occurrence are necessary. Now is the time to think
ahead and ensure the right measures are in place if southern Indiana and
Kentucky need to address shortages and withdrawals.
Once authorized, GLI and One Southern Indiana will work with the
Kentucky General Assembly to authorize the creation of a similar water
authority. Once the conclusion of their studies and recommendations has been
reached, the compact would become effective upon ratification of the two states
and after Congress’ approval.
1211 returns back to the House for approval of a Senate amendment and
anticipated to head to the Governor’s desk before the end of session.
Media Contact: Alison Brotzge-Elder, email@example.com; 502-262-0359