(This piece was originally published on February 19, 2018 in NUVO.)

A bill limiting local communities’ ability to provide oversight and impose some control on construction site run-off was narrowly defeated by a 6-5 margin Monday.

House Bill 1096, which was heard in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, would have barred local authorities from imposing more stringent run-off requirements than what is authorized in Indiana code. The bill had passed 70-24 in the House.

“I can’t set my six years on the Indianapolis City County Council and my time on the Department of Public Works Committee aside and not recognize the complexity of the issue and the fact that I believe that local control works best,” Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, said in opposition to the bill.

The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) stated in a newsletter that they oppose the bill because they are worried the bill will increase sediment pollution, which is a major source of contamination of lakes and rivers.

Kevin Osburn, principal at Rundell Erstberger Associates, spoke on behalf of the Indiana chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He echoed HEC’s concern, saying the bill could increase cost for additional water treatment.

“We believe this bill threatens the health safety and welfare of the public because it could reduce the protection of Indiana’s lakes and rivers and waterways,” Osburn said. “It could lead to degraded water quality for our drinking water, increasing the need for additional water treatment which already the highest cost most municipalities face.”

Osburn was also one of many who opposed the bill for its limit on local authority and said it would consequently affect how architects work.

“We concur that the bill undermines local authority and home rule which addresses unique challenges of each locale and each specific construction site, and thereby also limits the scope of work that landscape architects perform on behalf of the clients,” Osburn said.

Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, who voted in favor of the bill, said she wished Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) would have testified.

“We’ve had enough time for the locals to implement these rules. There’s nothing that I’ve heard today that IDEM is not going to open and be receptive to specific rural concerns,” Brown said.


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