Science & Technology



Indiana wetlands bill garners praise, criticism as it heads to governor's desk

Carrie Napoleon, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

Supporters of wetland legislation approved Tuesday by the Indiana legislature say the regulations are fair to residents, property owners, agriculture and developers while those against it say the state has already weakened wetland protections and this will only serve to damage sensitive ecosystems, increase flooding and decrease water quality.

Now it will be up to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb whether he will sign the controversial bill into law.

The legislation was introduced by GOP state Sen. Rick Neimeyer, who said it pertains to state wetlands only, not federal. It takes some of the classifications and changes those that do not meet the definition of isolated wetlands.

He said IDEM and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be responsible for reviewing and deciding whether a specific wetland can be declassified. The process will be transparent and the agencies will have to explain their decisions.

Niemeyer said the legislation is necessary because classifying some of these “wet holes” that do not meet the definition of isolated wetlands is unfair to property owners.

Living in south Lake County he has always had a concern about flooding but does not believe the legislation will have that big of an effect on flooding. Still, he said, like others he will be watching what happens if the measure becomes law.


Niemeyer said with his experience on the Lake County Plan Commission and drainage board, he worked with the bill and thinks it is where it needs to be to be fair to all parties.

“I understand the issues on both sides,” Niemeyer said.

State Sen. Dan Dernulc was among a group of eight Republicans to break rank and vote against the measure when it came Tuesday before the Senate.

“I personally do not like the changes to the classes,” Dernulc said.


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