INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)-According to the National Audubon Society Senate Bill 389 removes protections for over 600,000 acres of wetlands. Those 600,000 acres serve as vital habitat for birds and wildlife.
"Wetlands are really important not only for birds and wildlife habitat but for people they help filter and clean water they help with flooding they are a buffer," said Marnie Urso the Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes.
This bill repeals the law requiring a permit from the Department of Environmental management to build on an Isolated wetland. An isolated wetland does not have a connection to a regulated body of water. While this bill has support from developers across the state, several homeowners in West Lafayette are against it.
"Even though we don't own the land we'd prefer that it stay a wetland and not be developed because we think there is plenty of other land that can be developed for housing," said Larry Svajgr President of the West Port Homeowners Association in West Lafayette.
Privacy is a concern for homeowners, but there are also concerns about projects being disruptive.
"If this bill passes there is a potential that wetlands which border our neighborhood could be drained and filled in," said Don Schneck the President of the Arbor Chase Homeowners Association. "In that case, all of their privacy is gone."
Schneck says for his neighborhood, there could be consequences if the wetlands are drained.
"We do know according to the Army Corp of Engineers that it won't have an impact on water but it might have an impact on drainage," said Schneck.
None of the authors of the bill returned our request for an interview. However, State Senator Linda Rogers did send us a statement. It says, "The intent of Senate Bill 389 is to bring Indiana in line with 42 other states and the most up to date guidance of the Federal Clean Water Act. The EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers revised their definition of 'Waters of the US' under the Clean Water Act in 2020. Under the revised definition, that by definition, 'do not have a continuous surface connection to a regulated surface body of water or ephemeral streams that carry the flow of water only in direct response to rainfall or snow-melt.' It is only isolated wetlands that are addressed in SB 389 and thus there is no effect on drinking water or its quality as a result of this bill. The two previously mentioned agencies are responsible for drinking water quality and I want to see them continue this role as well as provide guidance for all Hoosiers to maintain the enjoyment of defined Wetlands in our state now and in the future."
However, the red maps attached to this article represent thousands of acres of isolated wetlands that would be affected if this bill passes. A change that could be detrimental to endangered species across the state of Indiana.
"We know that the regional population of some of these species declined as much as 80 percent in a few short decades so it could have a pretty big impact on certain species," said Urso.
The bill passed in the Senate and has been assigned to the Environmental Affairs committee in the house. To read the bill in full click here.