Needed: “true and complete evaluation”

Two notable documents were made available last week and both speak clearly for more complete and reliable information in water supply/management planning. 

On May 13, we were sent a copy of a position statement by the Upper White River Watershed Alliance.   It has been considering the planned reservoir for about a year.

Here is the link to the statement from the UWRWA’s website:

http://www.uwrwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/UWRWA-Mounds-Reservoir-Statement.pdf

The statement seemingly seeks to present a balanced and objective perspective. But it also goes into considerable detail regarding the potential negative impacts of a dam and reservoir.  Its concluding paragraph calls for a full and fair evaluation of all of the impacts– 

“UWRWA urges all parties consciously consider and weigh the costs of the proposed reservoir’s social and environmental impacts with the benefits being promotes as justification for the reservoir’s development.  Only than can we fully and fairly understand its impact and broaden our awareness of possible solutions to the water resource challenges that are facing all of central Indiana. “ (emphasis added).  It’s apparent that the UWRWA does not believe that the community has yet received a complete assessment.

The other document received was a 70-page report by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission which was presented by IURC staff to the May 14th meeting of Citizens Water’s Technical Advisory Group.  It’s titled Water Utility Resource Report — A Look at Indiana’s Water Supply and Resource Needs (2013). 

The following excerpt (from page 57) also cites the need for complete information–  

“Another area where management information can be improved relates to adequate analysis of alternatives for capital projects.  Utilities frequently rely on engineering consultants to perform this analysis. However, utility management may not understand how to evaluate the cost differential that exists between the recommended solution and other alternatives.  Capital projects should be developed with a true and complete evaluation of alternatives and decision-makers should be trained to properly request a valid evaluation and identify which option is most appropriate for the utility and customers.” (emphasis added).

Do we have confidence that the engineering firms and the reservoir proponent (the CED) will prepare a full and fair assessment of impacts?  If they (or other interested or responsible parties) do not, the resulting knowledge gap would seriously impair our ability to perform a “true and complete evaluation” of alternatives as the IURC urges.

 

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