WasteWatch 2024: Indiana

 This week’s campaign trail takes us to Indiana, as Moore Halfon and Belton A. Copp delve into the long-term studies that should help identify major water supply issues.

in the heart of the Midwest of the US is known for its basketball and agricultural products (mostly corn and soybeans). The state has many staple bodies of water such as Lake Michigan to the North and the Ohio River in the Eastern part of the state. With having such substantial bodies of water the state has experienced many environmental challenges such as agricultural runoff, bacterial pollution, and PFAS contamination.

Here is what you need to know:

The basics:
Life expectancy – 75, 40th in the nation
Population – 6.83M
Land area – 35,817 sq m
Water area – 593.4 sq m

Main environmental challenges:
PFAS- In 2022, 10 Indiana utilities had treated drinking water contaminated with PFAS, most of these utilities located in southern and central Indiana. Nearly 158 industrial facilities in the state (that submitted their pollution data) fit the criteria for PFAS contamination. Groundwater contamination due to AFFF use containing PFAS has also been revealed.

Algal Blooms – In Indiana algal blooms are most common from May to October, and are caused from excess or misapplied agricultural fertilizers that runoff in the state’s water bodies. When temperatures rise and the sun beats down, lakes produce blue-green algae. When exposed to these toxins, rashes, skin and eye irritation, and nausea may occur. Multiple water bodies in Indiana have experienced an algae bloom at some point in the 2010s. Twelve lakes in Indiana were studied from 2015-17 and found that all 12 lakes had abundances of blue-green algae in the moderate to high risk ranges for human health.

Next steps:
Indiana should expand its PFAS testing and its regulations on applying biosolids for land use to prevent algal blooms. While at the moment the state is not dealing with any algal blooms as the warmer seasons approach the state should address this issue. Additionally, technology should be implemented to also effectively destroy PFAS from the state’s water sources.

See the comments for recent environment news in Indiana

Organizations advocating for the environment and water:
Alliance of Indiana Rural Water – AIRW
Hoosier Environmental Council
Circular Indiana
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Wildlife Federation

Environmental journalists to follow:
Karl Schneider
Sarah Bowman
Enrique Saenz
Rebecca Thiele