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Indiana Finance Authority taking over IEDC water study for Lebanon LEAP district

A water pipeline proposed to run from Lafayette to Boone County has the Governor stepping in.
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Posted at 7:34 PM, Nov 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-14 19:34:40-05

LEBANON — A water pipeline proposed to run from Lafayette to Boone County has the Governor stepping in. He has ordered the Indiana Finance Authority to take over a water study which will determine if the pipeline could create difficulties for the future of Tippecanoe county. The Limitless exploration Advanced Pace or LEAP, district in Boone county is being touted as the future of Indiana.

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According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporations website, the LEAP Lebanon Innovation District is the next location of global innovation. Located just 30 miles from Indianapolis and Purdue University, the goal is to attract hundreds of companies employing over 50,000 people. However, the are is facing a challenge. There isn’t enough water in Boone county to support the area. A proposal to pump water from the Wabash river in Tippecanoe county has some people in that county concerned that their water access will decrease.

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"It's one thing to say oh we have lots of water,” Sandra Alvillar President of Stop the Water Stealsaid. “Lots of water for what? Do we have lots of Water for the Leap project? Do we have lots of water for that one specific company if the semiconductor does select Indiana? Or do we have enough water for all of the livelihood and the lives of the people here in Tippecanoe County?”

Those questions are what the water study will determine. The Indiana Finance Authority also known as the IFA has been instructed by the governor to take it over. The study will focus on the best way to supply water to the nearly 10,000-acre innovation district.

"The IFA, they have been the leader for the state of Indiana to say ok let’s look at our water resources and how do we manage this resource,” Matt Gentry the Mayor of Lebanon said. “Indiana is blessed with a lot of water, but it's not all equally spread across the state."

That's why the Indiana Economic Development Corporation paid for a study to see if water pumped from the Wabash River in Tippecanoe County could support projects in Boone county.

"So we have certain pockets of where water is a challenge and Boone County is one of those areas, " Mayor Gentry said.

Construction has already begun on the site where Eli Lilly is building a manufacturing facility. However, those with Stop the Water Steal out of Lafayette would like to see construction halted.

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"We would actually like the construction and the planning to stop until tests confirm definitively with data that that is verified by the relevant experts that the water for our community will suffice over generations," Alvillar said.

People who live next to the site say they too have been left in the dark claiming to have very little communication about what could happen to their home as the site expands.

"We are in Limbo is what it amounts to. We don't know what is going to happen for us,” Richard Shouse a Boone County resident said.

“There are some things we could do to improve our house, but we don't feel like putting money into it now not knowing what is going to happen, "Brenda Shouse said.

However, the mayor of Lebanon says this is all part of the process.

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"Water doesn't belong to one community or another,” Mayor Gentry said. “Lebanon has just as much right to that water as anyone in Indiana has. So as long as it can be paid for right and done in a way that it doesn't impact its neighbors, I think that is the biggest thing being missed. I think the people in Lafayette and Tippecanoe County they think they are going to be negatively harmed but there are protections in place for them.”

The study being taken over by the IFA will consider future population and economic growth for the region. It is expected to be completed next fall. To learn more about the LEAP district click here.