The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local News

January 29, 2013

Legislation calls for new state water management agency

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s polluted streams, chronically flooded areas, and rising demand for water in fast-growing parts of the state are among the reasons cited for the need for a state “water czar.”

Legislation that has support from both conservationists and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce calls for the first-ever statewide water management plan and a gubernatorial-appointed administrator to execute it.  

The bill is authored by state Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, whose legislation reflects concerns of a task force that spent 18 months studying the threats to Indiana’s natural resources.

The task force found that Indiana has “extraordinary” water resources that give the state an economic advantage. But it also found the resources are vulnerable, in part because of the lack of a coordinated effort to protect and manage the state’s water supplies.

“Water is abundant here,” said Karickhoff. “But just because a resource is abundant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of it.”

Last year’s intense drought, which triggered water-usage bans around the state, highlighted how critical water is as a resource.

But concerns about how to manage both water quality and water quantity pre-date the drought.

In its report to the Legislature, the Sustainable Natural Resources Task Force noted that Indiana’s waters are “overwhelmingly classified as impaired” — meaning they don’t meet federal water quality standards.

The report also noted that the demand for water in fast-growing communities in central Indiana may soon outpace the supply.

And some parts of southwest Indiana are chronically flooded. Or, as state Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, told his colleagues earlier this week: “We’ve been up to our eyeballs in water every spring for years.”

Karickhoff’s legislation mirrors a bill in the state Senate, carried by Sen. Richard Young Jr., D-Milltown. The companion bills borrow from similar legislation adopted by other states that faced expensive lawsuits for failing to manage their water resources.

Karickhoff’s bill calls for the creation of a new state agency, the Water Management Authority, which would have broad powers to develop and implement a statewide water management plan. It would address issues like flood control, water storage and water pollution.

Some decisions now made at the local level or by other state agencies — ranging from ditch construction standards to flood control plans — would be assumed by the state Water Management Authority.

It creates regional water management councils that would identify the water needs of their region and work to better coordinate the management of water resources.

And it creates a kind “water czar” whose job it would be to protect and manage the state’s water resources.

Bill Weeks, head of the Indiana Land Protection Alliance, chaired the task force that called for the state to elevate its role in water management.

At a joint hearing of the House and Senate natural resources committees Monday, Weeks said water had the greatest impact on the state’s other natural resources, including its 4 million acres of forestland.

“If I could make a plea,” Weeks said, “it would be to say that it’s time for us to look at water governance in this state.”  

The legislation hasn’t gotten a hearing yet, but the idea of elevating the state’s role in water management was part of the “Roadmap for Indiana” proposal that Gov. Mike Pence laid out in his campaign last fall. It called for directing state agencies to establish a plan for managing the state’s water resources and for accelerating the effort to clean the state’s waterways.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • NWS-HB0419-IvyTech-JC2.JPG Work begins on new Ivy Tech facility

    Motorists driving on East 60th Street near Columbus Avenue will notice heavy machinery working in preparation for a new educational facility in Anderson.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mother charged with possessing a gun at school enrolls child elsewhere Bonnie Trahan says her first priority is her son after incident that led to her facing charges of possessing a handgun on school property.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS - HB0419 - Bicycle follow - JC 3 Highland staff, students donate more than $1,500 to help classmate's family

    Despite being a fresh face in the halls, students and staff honored Suncerria's memory this week raising more than $1,500 in cash donations and $300 in gift cards as well as a food basket to support her family through their grief.

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Many schools see increases in IREAD scores More Madison County schools reported preliminary IREAD-3 test results Friday and, for the most part, officials were pleased with the results.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivy Tech extends deadline for ASAP Ivy tech Community College is extending the application deadline for a special program that allows students to earn an associate degree in 11 months.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS - HB0420 - Ellks - JC 2a Former Elks building being reborn Just months after it closed, the former Anderson Elks Lodge could be reopening as a banquet hall and catering service. The Anderson Plan Commission on Tuesday will consider a rezoning request from James D. Sargent and Nettie Cox to rezone the building from residential to industrial use.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-HB0420-eggdrop-30.jpg Helicopter aids in Easter egg drop

    Four months of planning was gone in about one minute on the Lapel football field Saturday as The River Church held its third annual Easter egg drop. Church pastor Tyson Priest found out more than 22,000 plastic eggs don’t last long when hundreds of local children are racing to pick them up as quickly as possible. But he didn’t seem to mind.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0420 - Funderburk - 04 Man tries to restore father's tainted legacy When news broke earlier this month that the Anderson Dental Clinic had been shut down and several employees, including owner Sally Metzner, had been arrested, Mark Funderburk's main concern was the patients. "A lot of them kept going there because of my dad even after he passed away," he said. "And they didn't deserve this."

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wagons for Warriors asks for donations

    The Pendleton American Legion post is accepting donations for a project called Wagons for Warriors.

    April 19, 2014

  • Mounds State Park hosts birding weekend featuring live hawk Mounds State Park will go to the birds April 25-27 as the park hosts “Bird the Mounds.”

    April 19, 2014

March Staff Photos


Buy and browse more photos from The Herald Bulletin

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
Auto Industry Book
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook