PORTER | Users withdrawing water from the Lake Michigan basin may be required to comply with conservation and efficiency rules beginning in mid-2014.
Chris Smith, deputy director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, explained the temporary rule to the Environmental Quality Service Council at the legislative committee's meeting in Porter last week.
Smith said a temporary rule for permitting water withdrawals exceeding the maximum threshold took effect in November 2012. Public hearings on the rule will begin in January in a few locations around the state which have yet to be determined, Smith said.
Public comments are currently being collected and the new rule will take effect in June, he said.
As part of the rule, voluntary water conservation and efficiency programs for users already covered by the compact will go into effect next year as well. Smith said any user who maintains current water level usage or less will be able to participate in the voluntary program.
If a current user exceeds the current level or if a new user receives a permit, they will be required to adopt conservation and efficiency programs, Smith said.
The rule falls under the state's oversight of the issue under the Great Lakes Compact. The compact is an agreement established in 2008 between the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces regulating movement of water outside of the Great Lakes basin.
The purpose of the compact, Smith said, is "to provide effective, consistent water resource management to prohibit Great Lakes water resources from drastically leaving the area."
"As a state, we are pretty blessed with our water availability but there are some areas to the south that need to be worked on," Smith said.
Smith said irrigation is the main use of water in the Lake Michigan basin and throughout Indiana. Overall, Indiana facilities are withdrawing less than capacity throughout the state.