Tippecanoe Co. water supply impacts economy

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind (WLFI) – When it comes to water, City of Lafayette Water Works Superintendent Kerry Smith said Tippecanoe County has struck it rich.

“It’s a gold mine. It’s the next oil,” said Smith. “We’re so fortunate to be sitting on so much water.”

Smith said an ancient aquifer is to thank for the areas abundance of water.

“We can pull 22 million gallons of water out of there a day,” said Smith.

The Teays River Valley Aquifer stretches from Virgina to Missouri. The widest portion, which is nearly six miles wide, runs through Tippecanoe County.

Smith said the city’s nine wells can pump more than twice the amount of water needed per day, creating an abundance of water for consumers, and an attraction for businesses.

“Just the large industries that we have,” said Smith. “They’re dependent upon water, not only for their processes, but for fire protection as well.”

However, there’s room for more industries to tap into the water supply.

“As far as businesses that are dependent upon water for the various processes that they do, we can provide that for them,” Smith said.

Smith said there is one undeveloped well field with the potential to pump more between five and eight million gallons of water per day, keeping Lafayette a more appealing location to bring business.

“We’re in a far, far better situation than places who can barely pull enough water to sustain what they’re doing right now,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the City of Lafayette is required by law to disinfect the water and has protection plans in place to keep the water safe, but the water source allows the city more control over pollutants.

“Our water is underground in a trapped aquifer in a confined situation,” said Smith. “So we have a lot more control over it.”

Smith said the water levels lower in the summer. But the aquifer replenishes its supply in the winter, keeping the highly demanded resource in high supply.

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