By Tom Anderson and Bowden Quinn
On May 10, 2000, the Indiana Water Pollution Control Board voted to reject a citizen’s petition to designate seventeen important Indiana water bodies as “Exceptional Use” waters. The petition, developed and presented by Jane Dustin of the Izaak Walton League and Cedar Creek Wildlife Project, was signed by over 250 Indiana citizens. The proposed Exceptional Use waters have unique features, such as supporting a cold water fishery or having outstanding water quality. Jane provided the board with many pages of information about rare plant and animal species and protected natural areas along the petitioned water bodies. Tom Anderson, Save the Dunes Executive Director, presented testimony at an April hearing in support of the effort.
Unfortunately, the Exceptional Use designation has already been removed from rules pertaining to the Great Lakes Basin waters in the northern third of the state. Indiana has a separate set of standards, adopted in 1997, which apply to the Basin. Thirteen of the seventeen waters identified in the petition are in the Basin. Business interests maintained that these waters cannot be designated for Exceptional Use unless the Board puts that category back in the Great Lakes rules. Because of this contested status of the Exceptional Use designation, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) suggested that the Board review waters in the petition as potential Outstanding State Resource Waters (OSRWs) rather than as Exceptional Use waters. Bowden Quinn (Executive Director, Grand Cal Task Force), the environmental representative, moved that the Board accept IDEM’s recommendation to include the petitioned waters in the OSRW review. That motion failed for lack of a second.
The Board then showed its pro-business bias by voting 7-2 to take no action on the petition. The regulated community is expected to oppose anything that protects waters “without degradation”, but the proxies for the Lieutenant Governor, Health Commissioner and Department of Natural Resources Director joined with Board Members from industry, small business, labor and agriculture in voting not to take action on the petition. Many were dismayed that every one of the Governor’s proxies voted in lock step with business and industry. Only the representative of the medical profession and of the environment (Bowden Quinn) opposed the motion. The vote is particularly disheartening when one considers that the agriculture representative who moved to kill the petition and the small business representative that seconded the motion failed to attend the public hearing! One wonders how they decided, or who directed them to act. . . .