It is going to take a sense of commitment and a sense of responsibility to do what needs to be done to modernize Indiana’s approach to water as a a critical economic, quality of life, and public health resource. That commitment must be expressed both in action and in funding. There is no more important nor vital resource than water, and Indiana has not been making the investment needed, nor even the investment that nearby states are making in their waters.
Making specific recommendations about a funding source for the needed investments is beyond the scope of this Report. But we can do two things. First, we can urge policy makers—despite the ever-present pressures of each legislative day—to invest in the state’s future: to stop thinking about chipping in a few hundred thousand dollars here or there, and start thinking seriously about the millions of dollars per year that the job requires. (Our best information is that Minnesota, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, among many others, are each devoting more than $10 million per year to water management.)
Second, without specifically recommending any of these funding sources, we can emphasize that identifying the needed funding is not impossible by taking note of funding sources employed in other cities and states, and adding a couple of ideas unique to the cost or lack thereof of water used in our own state:
- Chicago employs a five-cent tax on bottles of water to fund its water management program.
- The state of Maine has added five cents to its gasoline tax for source water protection.
- Cook County, Illinois, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Albany, New York impose a penny-per-fluid-ounce tax on sugary soda drinks.
- The Indiana legislature could impose a fee as low as $0.005/thousand gallon charge for metered water to provide for the management of natural and built infrastructure used to deliver that water.
- Finally, Indiana could apply to all water users the kind of payment made by Hoosiers who rely on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-built reservoirs for their water. Many Indiana residents already pay a general charge of a fraction of a cent per metered gallon for their water. Expanding that charge of all users of the waters of the state [exempting private wells, while examining the possibility of including wells required to register under Indiana law] would adequately fund the data, research, forecasts, planning and some of the investment needed to accomplish the goals of this Report.