Many Hoosiers take water for granted, and at the most recent AgrIInstitute Thought Leaders program panelists representing various water utilities acknowledged that Indiana should have sufficient water resources for the future. But those experts and the moderator of the event, Justin Schneider from Indiana Farm Bureau, caution that the state and farmers and consumers need to take care of the water we do have.
“I think it’s just really important that everybody, farmers, homeowners, whoever, really think about the impacts of what they do,” he told HAT. “Whether it’s flipping on the faucet or it’s applying the nutrients to their field, anything that could have an impact on the environment, on the long term viability of our water resources, we need to be cognizant of it. We don’t make more water. We use and recycle what’s there, and so we need to just be sure that we have as minimal impact as we can possibly manage.”
Schneider is Senior Policy Advisor at INFB. One of his focuses is working with partners, including the Indiana General Assembly, to find ways to be proactive in safeguarding and improving the state’s water quantity and quality. Schneider said although the resource is plentiful, people should understand the need to manage it.
“We need to make sure that we’re managing it well, that we’re protecting what have, that we have good quality water, that we’re thinking long term about how we insure that we’re not depleting resources and how we make sure that systems are in place that if we need to take action in the future we can.”
He said many Farm Bureau members are paying attention to improving practices, including how irrigation is used.
“We see people using equipment that’s better at conserving water,” Schneider said. “You see farmers using soil moisture sensors so they have better information about when they need to turn a system on and irrigate their crops.”
And he added Farm Bureau is “working with a lot of farmers to try to put together well monitoring networks around the state to monitor aquifers and see if there’s an issue. Are we lowering levels year over year? Historically we haven’t had that problem but we want to make sure it’s not an issue.”
Water quality issues and efforts are advancing in the state with the help of various partners.
“We’ve been working extensively with the other ag groups and conservation groups and agencies on our nutrient management soil health strategy for Indiana. We’ve now started to canvas around the state to really help farmers understand the need to keep nutrients and sediment in the field and the impacts they have on water quality.”
Schneider said state legislators have been very receptive to a thoughtful, reasoned approach to water management in Indiana.
Panelists during the Water Matters discussion were Thomas Bruns, President of Aqua Indiana, Jeff Willman, VP Water Operations at Citizens Energy Group, and Matthew Prine, Government Affairs Director at Indiana American Water.