DALLAS -- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called for building a short- and long-term strategy for Indiana’s aging water infrastructure in his state of the state address Tuesday night.

Holcomb said he has directed the Indiana Finance Authority to designate half a million dollars each of the next two years to develop asset management plans for high-need water and wastewater utilities.

Eric Holcomb
“It’s high time for Indiana to address our aging water infrastructure,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in his State of the State speech. Bloomberg

“It’s high time for Indiana to address our aging water infrastructure,” Holcomb said. “State oversight is spread across several agencies, so we’re going to form the executive branch governance structure needed to manage our operations and long-term strategy. We’re eager to work with lawmakers to get the ball rolling."

Holcomb's wants a multi-agency working group to devise strategies to manage water resources and infrastructure.

A November 2016 Indiana Finance Authority study found that as much as 75% of Indiana’s population is using water utilities in urgent need of replacement or repair. The funding gap identified by the Water Audit and Infrastructure Survey is much larger than previous estimates. The state has to spend more than $2 billion for immediate repairs and then an additional $815 million is needed long-term.

The Indiana Finance Authority has also applied for a federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan of $436 million. It's one of 12 potential borrowers. The authority wants to expand its Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs and fund dozens of additional projects in communities across the state.

Holcomb also outlined plans to complete section 5 of Interstate 69 in Tuesday's speech. The 21-mile project, beset with construction delays and funding woes tied to the developers, is expected to be completed before August.

In August, the state completed a settlement agreement to take over a road project that's been cited as an example of the pitfalls of public-private partnerships. The state used proceeds from a $180 million in highway revenue bonds it issued last summer to retire the developer’s private-activity bonds.

Spending on water infrastructure has taken a back seat to roads. The state’s long-term road plan calls for approximately $4.7 billion in new spending over the next five years.

Indiana holds triple-A ratings from the three largest rating agencies.

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