Growing ditch putting water supply to thousands in southern Indiana in jeopardy

Growing ditch putting water supply to thousands in southern Indiana in jeopardy

ELIZABETH, IN (WAVE) - The water supply thousands of people in southern Indiana rely on is in jeopardy because of a ditch.

Soil erosion from a rapidly growing ditch is now coming dangerously close to an aquifer that supplies water to people in Elizabeth and a nearby casino.

The ditch is sandwiched between Highway 111 and the Ohio River in Harrison County. It's hard to see. It was created in the 1980s and has gone largely unnoticed since, sitting on private land for many years.

But that ditch has continued to grow and now the problem has the county's attention.

"You can see, it's about 170-feet wide and 44-feet deep," Harrison County Parks Board President Larry Shickles said. "And that's happened just over a short period of time."

Shickles said the county was looking at buying the land where the ditch sits while shopping around for a riverfront plot for future development. But after receiving concerns from residents of Elizabeth and Representative Karen Engleman, they decided to buy the land there to better protect the water supply.

County officials told us the aquifer supplies water to around 4,000 people in the area and the Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino nearby.

Shickles said they want to take care of the problem, but they need to do it carefully.

"I mean, we all realize that 4,000 households and a major part of our economy are supported by this well," Shickles told us. "And so, everybody will be moving as quickly as we can, in the same time trying to do this so that it's the right phase."

But before they can get to work, the county needs to hire a company to find out exactly how close the soil erosion is to the water aquifer, how much time they'll have to fix it and what it will take.

Those plans are expected to be discussed at a county council meeting Monday night.

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