The water-industrial complex is up to its old tricks again, or so it appears. Or perhaps it’s only doing things the way it always has. Either way, we need to ensure that future projections of water demand are sound and supportable. There is much at stake.
Two engineers from an Indianapolis consulting firm recently (8-20-14) presented the results of a study of water supply and demand in Boone County to the Technical Advisory Group which advises Citizens Water. Heart of the River regularly attends and moniors those monthly meetings.
The engineering firm was retained by the Boone County interlocal Water Study Committee which is comprised of the Town of Advance, Boone County, Citizens Energy Group, Town of Jamestown, City of Lebanon, Town of Thorntown, Town of Whitestown, and the Town of Zionsville.
The project involved surveying the eight water utilities which supply water in the county about existing supply capacity and current and future projected demand.
The study determined in part that by 2035, there would be a projected 10 million gallon/day deficit in peak demand. it also concluded that a 10 MGD water source could be provided by Citizens Water from its combined groundwater and surface water sources.
It was pointed out in the meeting that by using the Peak demand numbers, rather than the Average demand, the resulting cost of supplying that new potable water would be a great deal more expensive than that required to supply the “baseload” (i.e. the non-irrigation component). In this region, the Peak irrigation demand is typically twice the quantity of the baseload. However, for the Zionsville service area, the current Peak water demand (9.00 MGD) is almost 3 times the Average demand (3.30 MGD).
it was also pointed out in the meeting that the projected demands from the eight utilities were taken by the consultants as givens without any effort to verify or coordinate the stated projected demand numbers or to ensure consistency of methodology or the underlying assumptions. The engineers noted in response that a review of the projections was not within the scope of their contract with the Boone County utilities group, and thus they made no attempt to review the projections. This was later facetiously characterized by one observer as: “… we have as planning objectives the sum of apples, oranges, bananas and sausages.”
In addition to the need for holistic, comprehensive, and integrated planning recently urged by several agencies, including the IURC, we also need critical analyses– especially where projections of future water demand are involved. As another observer has noted, water officials know they’ll will never be criticized for developing too much water supply, but they will be sharply criticized if supplies run short.