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Lebanon City Council

Source: WISH-TV / other

LEBANON, Ind. — The ongoing tiff between the city of Lebanon, the state, and Hoosiers against the LEAP District in Boone County continues as the Citizens Action Coalition has released a scathing report on what it says may be the impacts of the project.

The LEAP District is a proposed innovation hub that will sit on thousands of acres of annexed land by the city of Lebanon. Eli Lilly has committed to building a facility there and a microchip maker is also said to be interested. The district is also said to need water in order to operate and the plan from the state is to pipe it in from the Wabash River near Lafayette.

The CAC believes doing this will hamper Hoosiers’ access to water in the area where the water would be piped in from, but it would also impact Hoosiers who pay for water. Lebanon mayor Matt Gentry told WISH-TV the report is way off base.

“It’s far more likely that rates will not increase because of LEAP,” he said. “The state is trying to use economic development to solve a much larger central Indiana water problem.”

That problem, he says, is that central Indiana may not have enough water to sustain its population by 2050. Piping water in from elsewhere would have to be the solution, he added.

The report believes Hoosiers on Indiana American Water in Tippecanoe and Hamilton Counties may be on the hook for paying for operating the pipeline. It also claims that building and operating the pipeline would be double the estimated $200 million cost.

“I mean I think frankly it was a pretty disingenuous and not even factually accurate report, a lot of it,” Gentry said. “I mean parts of it were saying we didn’t even have water for Lilly, which is completely untrue. I mean we can serve Lilly without any regional pipelines.”

The report also lays out concerns with wastewater from LEAP. Gentry said that the issue can be solved with water treatment plants and state regulations.

The Indiana Finance Authority is overseeing a comprehensive water study of the Wabash River valley, which is expected to be ready in January.