The Great Lakes region is a popular vacation destination for Indiana residents. While we think about the sand dune beaches and great fishing, many overlook the fact that the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan, are so meaningful to Hoosiers in another way – they’re a vital source of the fresh water we depend on.
Second only to Antarctica and Greenland’s ice caps, the Great Lakes are the world’s second largest fresh water surface resource. The Great Lakes hold around 22 percent of the world’s fresh water or approximately 95 percent of the usable fresh water in the United States.
Lake Michigan is the largest fresh water body situated within U.S. borders. It is the third largest of the five Great Lakes in terms of area, and the second largest Great Lake by water volume. This beautiful lake is not only a great place to visit – it also serves as a high-quality source water for residents in northwest Indiana.
Within the Lake Michigan Basin area, 97 percent of public water comes from the lake; only 3 percent is sourced from groundwater. Ninety-five percent of the water used in northwest Indiana is sourced from Lake Michigan.
- 59 percent is consumed for industrial uses
- 37 percent is used in energy production
- 4 percent is consumed by the public
Because Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes Region is so critical to our water supply, we must protect it. Infrastructure must be sufficient to minimize polluted stormwater and wastewater from flowing into these freshwater lakes.
Investment in water infrastructure is also an important part of providing quality, reliable water service to customers in northwest Indiana. Nationally, much of this critical water infrastructure is more than a century old and is well past its useful life.
Indiana American Water is committed to investing in its treatment and distribution systems and a portion of every bill is dedicated to replacing rehabilitating aging infrastructure. In the last two years alone, Indiana American Water invested more than $140 million in water infrastructure around the state, including 94 separate projects in northwest Indiana that have improved the reliability and quality of water service to customers while also enhancing fire protection capabilities.
A breakdown of water systems can result in water disruptions, impediments to emergency response, and damage to other types of infrastructure. The price tag for the critical upkeep and replacement of the nation’s outdated water systems is at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, according to estimates by the American Water Works Association.
A study completed late last year by the Indiana Finance Authority evaluated Indiana’s water infrastructure and estimated more than $2.3 billion in infrastructure needs for drinking water systems across the state, and found that an additional $815 million is needed annually to maintain this infrastructure into the future.