December 4, 2023

Tippecanoe County Commissioners hope for legislative action as they pass water withdrawal ban

Article origination WBAA News
Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh listens to public comment on the ordinance during last months meeting  - FILE PHOTO: WBAA/Ben Thorp

Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh listens to public comment on the ordinance during last months meeting

FILE PHOTO: WBAA/Ben Thorp

An ordinance blocking large water withdrawals from Tippecanoe County unanimously passed at the county commissioner's meeting Monday.

The move comes as the state looks into the feasibility of a pipeline that would move millions of gallons of water from Tippecanoe County to an industrial district in Lebanon.

The ordinance would halt water withdrawals of more than five million gallons for a nine-month period starting after its passage.

Discussion of the ordinance moved quickly compared with last month, when public commenters spent over an hour voicing their support for the measure.

Some residents asked whether the ordinance could be extended after the nine-month ban expired.

Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said the moratorium was intended to end after lawmakers pass water protections out of the next legislative session.

“Unfortunately the day after we passed this on first reading we got news from leadership out of the Statehouse that they didn’t intend to address water issues,” he said. “Hopefully, they are in the process of reconsidering that.”

But Murtaugh said the ordinance could be extended if the state legislature does not take action on water issues.

State Senator Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) has said that he is more hopeful about passing legislation that protects locals against potentially harmful water removals after meeting with state leadership.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation previously called the county’s decision “moot,” saying that there were no plans to withdraw water in the next nine months.

Contact WBBA/WFYI reporter Ben Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org.

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