Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

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
Community News Network
  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks