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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Environment - Test groundwater at eight Indianapolis coal ash lagoons? Install more monitoring wells state-wide?

Stories from the Hoosier Environmental Council and the State Chamber of Commerce.

"Groups want Indianapolis utility to test water" is the headline to an AP story by Charles Wilson, reporting:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Environmental, health and neighborhood groups on Monday called on Indianapolis Power & Light to test groundwater at eight coal ash lagoons they fear may be contaminating wells that supply water to residents on the city's south side.
Unfortunately the rest of the story is now behind a paywall. But you may read it here at ChemInfo; the story continues:
Representatives from the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Indiana Public Health Association, the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations and six other groups said coal ash from the lagoons, which are also near the White River, could be carrying toxic chemicals such as mercury and arsenic into wells in nearby subdivisions, but no one knows how bad the danger really is.

"We need to know what's underneath us," said Jodi Perras, the Indiana representative for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "And then IPL needs to take responsibility for it as the law requires it to do."

The last testing that was made public, in 1989, showed levels of mercury and arsenic that were beyond Environmental Protection Agency limits, according to an analysis performed in March by Russell Boulding of Boulding Soil-Water Consulting, a pollution consultant based in Bloomington. Coal ash, the byproduct left behind when coal is burned to generate electricity, can contain toxic substances including arsenic, selenium, chromium, thallium, mercury and lead. The lagoons are on site at the company's coal-fired power plant on the south side of Indianapolis.

IPL spokeswoman Brandi Davis-Handy said in an email that there is no evidence that the utility's coal ash lagoons were contaminating groundwater and that the aquifer near the plant "does not serve as a public drinking water source." It was not immediately clear whether Davis-Handy included private wells in the category of public drinking water.

She also said IPL meets all EPA requirements and is working to meet new mandates from the agency.

And here is the HEC website page focusing on coal ash.

"Indiana Chamber forecasts water shortages was the headline to a story last week by Barb Berggoetz and Bill McCleery of the Indianapolis Star. It begins:

Indiana isn't facing the dramatic water shortages hitting California, but a new report from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce warns the state's water supply won't be adequate to meet future needs unless government better manages and distributes the valuable resource.

A study released today by the chamber's foundation calls for the development of a statewide water resource plan to better conserve and manage the state's water supply.

Without it, the chamber warns, "a large portion of the state likely won't have the local water resources needed to meet growing needs."

In Southern Indiana, specifically, local water supplies are insufficient for meeting future public needs, the study said. The report noted that few aquifers or perennial streams exist immediately south of Bloomington — a prime area for business development with the expansion of I-69 and continued work at the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Kevin Brinegar, chamber president and CEO, said the state legislature needs to set aside least $10 million next year to make an initial investment to start collecting water resource data and begin work on a water resource plan.

Chamber officials and Bloomington-based Jack Wittman, geoscientist with INTERA Inc., which conducted the study this year for the chamber, released findings during a news conference this morning.

"This is definitely a jobs and economic development issue," said Brinegar. "Our state's economy is growing more diverse, but we always will make things. And it often takes large, reliable supplies of water to do so." * * *

Water resources and needs vary around the state, but chamber officials stressed the importance of cooperation of local governments and developing a new governance structure for managing water resources.

Northern Indiana has more water, but irrigation usage is fast increasing and more data needs to be collected on aquifers and streams.

Central Indiana could see an increase in demand of 50 million gallons used per day by 2050 due to continued population growth, the study finds. Although utilities have identified the need and taken initial steps, the report said "supplies are limited and, without new sources, economic growth is at risk." * * *

The full study and county-by-county data on water usage and resources are available at www.indianachamber.com/water.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 12, 2014 08:51 AM
Posted to Environment