The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has convened a workgroup to consider incorporating new language into the proposed 401 Water Quality Certification and Wetland Water Quality rules. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision on January 9th limited federal regulation of certain isolated wetlands, IDEM issued a statement clarifying that affected waterbodies are still waters of the state and subject to state regulation.
Historically, Indiana has protected the state’s waters, which include wetlands, by applying water quality standards through its Section 401 Water Quality Certification program (in conjunction with the Section 404 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit program). Currently, while the new language is being considered, IDEM is requiring a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for any activity resulting in the discharge of dredged or fill material into “isolated” wetlands. The new language would create a “Surface Water Modification Permit” to provide protection for isolated wetlands no longer subject to federal regulation. The new language would not create duplicative permits or result in any new regulatory burden. Sandra Wilmore, Save the Dunes Conservation Fund Director, is serving on the committee to represent environmental interests.
The committee is fairly well balanced, with several other environmental representatives among twelve members, and intends to meet three times to provide recommendations to IDEM on language for the state regulatory program.