Bill that takes protection away from wetlands in Indiana has passed the senate.

Indiana Senate Bill 389 is headed to the state House of Representatives. Bill supporters are hopeful, but those opposed are concerned for the future of Indiana.

Posted: Feb 3, 2021 6:09 AM
Updated: Feb 3, 2021 3:45 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- February 2, is World Wetlands Day. A day to celebrate wetlands and the impact they have on our environment. However, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, we also acknowledge the passing of a bill that could impact many wetlands here in the Hoosier state. On Monday, Senate Bill 389 passed with a 29-19 vote.

I got reactions from those who support and oppose the bill.

Rick Wajda, CEO of the Indiana Builders Association, said their members were pleased with the vote and look forward to what they can do if the bill becomes a law.

"Many areas of the state and the country are near or at record lows for inventory. Homes continue to rise because the demand is there, and we're not producing enough new homes," "Our organization and our members want to continue to meet the needs of Hoosiers," said Wajda.

Dr. Jim Brinson, an Assistant Professor of Ecology at Saint Mary of the Woods College in Vigo County, explained that although this bill might solve one problem, it will create many more.

"Yes, you might be building more homes, you might be erecting more structures, but you're also putting those structures at risk. You're going to have long term costs because you're going to have more problems [to deal with], you're going to have people with water in their basements, you're going to have cities that are going to have to redo their infrastructure, and you're going to have state funds that the cities are going to seek. There will also be increased costs to mitigate what nature was already mitigating," explained Brinson.

Wajda said IBA members are familiar with the legislation process and are hoping for the best.

"There are a lot of opportunities for different groups, different policymakers, and other interested parties to have their voice heard in the process. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the end product is something that Hoosiers can support.," said Wajda.

SB 389 will now head to the Indiana House of Representatives for its first reading.

In a statement to the Indiana Environmental Reporter, Governor Eric Holcomb said, "We need to be confident that any changes in the law avoid harming drinking water quality, increasing the potential for flooding, or hurting the wildlife habitats used by our anglers and hunters."

That concern is shared by environmentalists across the state.

It's not too late to voice your support or opposition to the bill. To find your legislator's information, visit here

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