Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

February 1, 2013

It’s about time for an Indiana water czar

The drought of 2012 reminded Hoosiers that water, both above and below ground, is our state’s most precious natural resource. Without abundant, clean water, the state’s agriculture industry, the health of the state’s residents and our vast recreational opportunities would be in peril.

The importance of surface and ground water is being recognized in the General Assembly this session. As outlined Thursday in an article by our Goshen News Statehouse correspondent Maureen Hayden, Republican Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo has introduced legislation that would create a statewide water resources management plan and an administrator with authority to implement that plan. The bill would also create regional water management councils that would be closer to the issues than a centralized staff in Indianapolis.

This bill offered by Rep. Karickoff should be adopted to bring an organized, purposeful and cohesive structure to water management in Indiana.

Water management in the state is currently overseen by a variety of agencies, including:

• County drainage boards concerned with keeping agricultural fields workable.

• The Indiana Department of Environmental Management that wants clean surface and ground water.

• The Department of Natural Resources that looks after wildlife and fishes, rare wetland plants and manages things like dock placement in lakes.

• Soil and Water Conservation Districts work with farmers to create vegetation buffer zones and keep animal waste out of surface waters.

• Local stormwater boards, which are charged with managing municipal stormwater discharge.

•  The IDEM and the federal Environmental Protection Agency keep tabs on sewer plants and discharges by industries.

• And, if a river is deemed navigable, the Army Corps of Engineers oversees navigation.

So there are many agencies at all levels of government working to manage similar resources.

A statewide water management plan and an administrator to oversee it could bring a comprehensive understanding to what actions are needed to ensure Hoosier industries, farmers and residents continue to have a good supply of this precious resource.

We wonder why such a good idea has not been adopted before now.

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