(This piece was originally published on January 23, 2019 by the Chesterton Tribune.)

The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) is voicing its opposition to legislation which it says would increase the likelihood of stormwater runoff pollution at construction sites.

HB 1266, introduced by State Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, “is drastic legislation that would take authority away from local stormwater professionals,” HEC said in a statement released after deadline on Tuesday. “This loss of oversight would lead to increases in sediment pollution.”

According to his official website, Miller is managing partner of Tailor Made Homes LLC and owner of Creekside Realty LLC and White Pines Properties LLC, is seated on the Board of Directors of the Builders Association of Elkhart County, and holds a life directorship in the Indiana Builders Association.

Miller’s bill would do the following:

*  Prohibit a municipal stormwater department from requiring sediment and erosion control measures more stringent than those imposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

*  Require that a stormwater department complete its preliminary review of a builder’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within 48 hours of its being submitted, a significantly accelerated time frame than the maximum 28-day window used by IDEM.

*  Require that the person reviewing a SWPPP be a registered professional engineer, architect, or surveyor.

*  And forbid an stormwater department which has approved a builder’s SWPPP from issuing a stop-work order if it proves that the erosion and sediment control measures provided by that SWPPP are inadequate.

“Stormwater runoff from construction sites is a major source of sediment pollution in waterways and lakes,” HEC said. “Sediment pollution smothers aquatic habitats and increases the chance of algal blooms. Under the federal Clean Water Act, as administered by the state, construction sites have to have run-off control plans and those plans are reviewed by local stormwater professionals who judge whether they are adequate. Every construction site is different in size, lay-out, soil type, and relationship to local lakes and waterways. That’s why the run-off control plans have to be individualized, and the local storm water professionals are in the best position to judge them.”

“The legislation stems from complaints from the construction industry that requirements vary between locations and that some local stormwater professionals are over-zealous,” HEC noted. “HB 1266 is not the solution. Instead, there should be discussion about the enforcement problems with IDEM and with the stormwater professional associations.”

The House Environmental Affairs Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on HB 1266 at 12:30 p.m. (CT) today. HEC’s environmental health director, Dr. Indra Frank, as well as the Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management, were both on the list of those set to testify on the bill.

HEC urged Hoosiers who are concerned about HB 1266 to contact their state representative.

Find your state representative at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/


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