Protecting Lakes and Rivers

Update February 5, 2019

Water-related legislation in the 2019 Indiana General Assembly is falling into three categories:  pre-empting local control, bills related to the Indiana Water Infrastructure Task Force, and other water resource issues.


Construction Run-off

HB 1266.  Last year’s HB 1096 has reappeared as HB 1266.  It would prevent any local stormwater authority from having requirements for construction sites more protective than the state’s rule.  However, local stormwater authorities are in the best position to gauge whether construction site runoff controls are adequate.  The House passed HB 1266 by a vote of 68 to 27  on Feb 5 with a mix of the two parties voting both for and against.  Now the bill moves to the Senate.  See more details here.

Logging and Mining

HB 1531.  Is the return of 2018’s HB 1289.  It would eliminate local zoning ordinances related to logging and mining.  Poor logging and mining practices near lakes or streams can disturb the land and  increase sediment pollution.  Local cities, towns, and counties are in the best position to determine how to protect their water resources.    See more details here.

Indiana Water Infrastructure Task Force

The 2018 legislature created the Water Infrastructure Task Force.  The Task Force met for 4 day-long sessions during the fall and heard many hours of testimony on drinking water and wastewater issues.  Details from those meetings are available here.  The Task Force adopted a final report with recommendations related to spending money on water infrastructure, improving water and wastewater utility performance, and tracking Indiana’s water resources.  The final report is available here.

Funding for Infrastructure

HB 1406.  This bill annually appropriates $20,000,000 from the state general fund to the Indiana finance authority to use in the Water Infrastructure Assistance Fund to provide low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.  HB 1406 was heard in House Utilities Jan 23 where it was amended and passed.  The amendment directs 40% of the Infrastructure Assistance Fund to water or wastewater utilities serving fewer than 3200 customers.

Water Conservation & Planning

SB 4,  This bill takes up several issues related to drinking water and wastewater.  It was amended and unanimously passed the Senate Utilities Committee Jan 17.

  • Make clarifications in SEA 362
  • Request a 2019 task force appointed by the Governor to examine stormwater issues
  • Require an annual audit of water loss from drinking water systems with oversight by the Indiana Finance Authority

In 2016, the Indiana Finance Authority estimated that 19 – 24% of processed and treated drinking water in Indiana is lost before it ever reaches a home or business due to aging infrastructure and leaky pipes.

  • Set up regional water planning.
  • Add galvanized pipe to the types of service lines that can be replaced in order to reduce lead in drinking water.
  • SB 4 was amended January 17 with a provision to compile all state water-related data into the state’s data hub under the supervision of a Governor-appointed water data officer.

HB 1438.  This bill related to drinking water and wastewater is similar to SB 4.  It was assigned to the House Utilities Committee and has not been scheduled for a hearing, yet. It would

  • Require an annual audit of water loss from drinking water systems under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
  • Require the Indiana Dept of Environmental Management to establish and maintain a water data collection hub
  • Establish a water infrastructure task force to examine an inventory and assessment of the water resources of the state


Other Water Resource Issues

HB 1270  would abolish the Kankakee River Basin Commission (KRBC) and replace it with the Kankakee River Basin Development Commission (commission) which would also include the Yellow River basin.  The existing Commission opposes the bill, which came as a surprise to them.  HB 1270 was passed by  the House Select Committee on Government Reduction on Jan 10 and moved to the full House.

SB 477 would prohibit local stormwater authorities from collecting fees  for the operation and maintenance of a storm water system from churches, schools, or agricultural properties.  The bill was assigned to Senate Utilities where it has not been scheduled for a hearing, yet.

HB 1265 urges the legislative council to assign to an appropriate interim study committee the task of studying: (1) low head dams; and (2) riparian rights; during the 2019 interim.  The bill was assigned to House Natural Resources, where it has not been scheduled for a hearing, yet.

SB 193, if passed, will allow property owners to lay pipes across or in rights-of-way controlled by local governments in order to connect their property to water or wastewater pipes.  The bill would prevent the local governments from blocking that access to the right-of-way.  Jan 24 the bill was amended on second reading to restrict property owners to connecting with sewer and water lines that are within the regulated territory in which their property lies.

HB 1261.  This bill would require inspections of residential on-site sewage systems before a property is sold.  If passed, this bill will likely help reduce the number of failing septic systems in the state.  This bill is in the House Environmental Affairs Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing, yet.