February 2, 2024

The LEAP pipeline project has been paused. How much has been spent on the project so far?

A photo of the Wabash River that runs between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Water issues have become a major concern for residents in the wake of a proposed pipeline to transfer water from the region down to Lebanon (FILE Photo: WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

A photo of the Wabash River that runs between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Water issues have become a major concern for residents in the wake of a proposed pipeline to transfer water from the region down to Lebanon (FILE Photo: WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

How much money has been spent on the LEAP pipeline project and who was involved in starting this plan in Indiana? A member of the audience from Lafayette wanted to know.

The LEAP project, or Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace, is an industrial project in Lebanon developed by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, or IEDC.

The IEDC hopes to attract large investments to the region, particularly from the tech sector. It has already seen buy-in from Eli Lilly, which broke ground on a $3.7 billion investment there last year.

However, the Lebanon site does not have enough water to support all of the industrial projects the state hopes to eventually place there, which has led the IEDC to look for other ways of bringing water to the LEAP district.

One of the options being pursued is a water pipeline from Tippecanoe County which could move up to 100 million gallons of water per day.

Exploration of the proposed pipeline is still in the early stages, but the IEDC launched a feasibility study last year. That study has since been moved under the Indiana Finance Authority, or IFA, after officials in Tippecanoe raised concerns about transparency from the IEDC.

The IEDC has a contract for the study posted on its transparency portal that lists its cost at over $10 million.

A second water study, announced by the IFA last year, is still in the contract negotiating phases and does not yet have a price tag according to an IFA spokesperson.

Projections for a finished pipeline have reportedly been in the $2 billion range, although the IEDC has disputed that there is any cost estimate for the pipeline at this time.

The growing price tag for the LEAP project has led some lawmakers to push for additional oversight of the IEDC.

During a budget hearing last year, IEDC officials took questions from lawmakers about the cost of the project even as the corporation requested millions in additional funds.

A bill giving lawmakers advisory positions on the IEDC’s board is currently in the Senate.

Contact WBAA/WFYI reporter Benjamin Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org.

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