Rep. Deal on the negative consequences of new wetlands legislation now on its way to governor

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Ross Deal (D-Mishawaka) today released the following statement regarding Senate Enrolled Act 229, which would remove state oversight during the reconstruction or maintenance of regulated drains of protected wetlands.

“The setbacks outweigh the benefits with this poorly thought out legislation,” Deal said. “While I support county control of drain maintenance, I don’t see the advantage of taking away oversight in their reconstruction.

“When we pass legislation like this, we run the risk of costing taxpayers even more money. The price of remediation when something inevitably is done incorrectly is not worth the freedom surveyors will receive from this bill.

“Not only that, but we’re overlooking several consequences that could transpire if Indiana’s wetlands are de-regulated, starting with water quality. Do we really want to take our hands off the wheel when it comes to our water – an already vulnerable resource?

“Indiana’s wetlands not only naturally filter our water systems and provide a home for various wildlife, but they also protect our lands from flooding. When we redirect drains and build over wetlands, the water has to go somewhere.

“In the last 300 years, wetlands have gone from covering 25 percent of the total area of the state to less than 4 percent. We can’t allow just anyone to make decisions on a piece of Indiana that is so fragile, and will only become more fragile with time. Though it might help businesses break ground and save a few tax dollars now, it will cost Hoosiers a great deal more later.”

Currently, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) regulates over 1,000 drains in Indiana. There are no fees to apply for a permit to make changes on a drain and since 2015, they have processed over 2,000 requests.

Senate Enrolled Act 229 is now waiting to be signed into law by the Governor.

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