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March 29, 2017 2:53pm

GLI Applauds HB 1211 Passage by Indiana Lawmakers

For Immediate Release:  March 29, 2017

In a forward-thinking move to protect water resources, both houses of the Indiana State Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 1211 this session which establishes an Indiana-Kentucky water authority to study ownership rights of the resources shared by the states.  The bill was authored by Representative Steven Stemler, (D) Jeffersonville.

“This is the sixth year I have proposed a trans-border water resources authority bill and I am very pleased that it passed through the legislature unanimously,” Rep. Stemler said. “House Bill 1211 specifically addresses the security, availability, and future of our water resources for generations to come.”

The established authority will consist of 12 officials from the General Assembly, ex officio members, and individuals appointed by the Governor. This group will study the subject of ownership rights of shared water resources and offer recommendations.

GLI’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Iris Wilbur testified in favor of the bill along with One Southern Indiana President Wendy Dant Chesser and representatives from the Louisville Water Company.

“Communities in Southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville region owe a large portion of our economic development to our abundant water resources,” Wilbur testified. “For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that we protect the longevity and sustainability of our regional water resources.”

The Greater Louisville Region was founded due to the commerce passing through at the Falls of the Ohio. The large industrial base in Southern Indiana and Louisville has been drawn over the years by the promise of an abundant water supply.

“This bill is the first step in making sure we are working together to actively protect our water, the natural resource that makes this region attractive to businesses and people,” Dant Chesser said.

HB 1211 was drafted to avoid ongoing fights over water that the country has witnessed in western and southern states.  Beginning as early as the 1980s, Florida entered into conflict with Georgia over the ACF River Basin incurring tens of millions of dollars in legal fees. It’s estimated that Florida’s expenses have reached $41 million in 2017, with $72 million in legal fees incurred since 2001. Taking a reactive approach to water resource management, these states found themselves in a protracted court battle that will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.

Disputes over rights to water can become heated in times of prolonged drought. While Indiana and Kentucky have not yet had such disputes, it is GLI and One Southern Indiana’s position that exploring what provisions should be made for such an occurrence are necessary. Now is the time to think ahead and ensure the right measures are in place if southern Indiana and
Kentucky need to address shortages and withdrawals.

Once authorized, GLI and One Southern Indiana will work with the Kentucky General Assembly to authorize the creation of a similar water authority. Once the conclusion of their studies and recommendations has been reached, the compact would become effective upon ratification of the two states and after Congress’ approval.

HB 1211 returns back to the House for approval of a Senate amendment and anticipated to head to the Governor’s desk before the end of session.

Media Contact: Alison Brotzge-Elder, abrotzge@greaterlouisville.com; 502-262-0359

About Greater Louisville Inc.

Greater Louisville Inc. - the Metro Chamber of Commerce is focused on growing the regional economy. As the region’s largest convener of business leadership, GLI leads economic and global outreach strategies focused on business attraction; nurtures the entrepreneurial eco-system; and champions the development of the community’s talent base.  As the voice of Greater Louisville’s business community, GLI advocates for a pro-business environment and facilitates businesses engagement on issues that impact regional competitiveness.  For more information, visit www.greaterlouisville.com.