Natural Resources

IndyStar Article, “The White River Will Never Be Clean Until We Tackle This Filth Hiding in Plain Sight”

The IndyStar examines the issue of toxic runoff into the White River. While the article focuses on the effects on water quality in the Indianapolis area, the problem is widespread and affects us all.

https://www.indystar.com/in-depth/news/environment/2019/09/23/white-river-biggest-problem-hiding-plain-sight-toxic-stormwater-runoff-pollution/2207338001/?fbclid=IwAR1FNNk-m1EYVxODEzgnvqRttg4Ehr16CCiyDCDrfD0BpxyQr1TDV19uHwc

From the Sierra Club Newsletter:

Article: You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Life

The Trump administration’s proposal to dramatically weaken the Endangered Species Act amounts to death by a thousand cuts. If the administration has its way, profit-seeking will eventually eclipse the need to protect at-risk species.

Link: You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Life

From the Sierra Club Newsletter:

Campaign (form for submitting a message through the EPA Official Comment Docket on Water):

The Trump administration’s next attack on the Clean Water Act would keep your state from demanding that big polluters protect local waterways and drinking water sources. State governments and groups like the Sierra Club use Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect your local waterways.

Trump’s Coming for Your Local Waterways 

Climate Strike in Muncie

An older gentleman and a younger man sit side by side holding signs that say Climate Crisis! We demand action!

As part of the global climate strike held on Friday, September 20, approximately 25 activists from the  Muncie area gathered in front of the Delaware County Building at 4:00 pm. Ranging in age from under six months to over 70 years old, demonstrators drew attention to the need for governments worldwide to take measures to combat climate change. 

Drivers-by registered their support at the busy intersection by honking their horns as the lights changed.  

Friday, September 20

Demonstrators were supplemented by Muncie schools when the Homecoming Parade marched down Walnut Street. 

A group of protesters young and old march down the sidewalk holding signs demanding action on Climate Change.

The takeaway, in Muncie and across the globe, is clear:

If we hope to survive climate change, we must insist that governments devise and implement comprehensive, wide-ranging plans that effectively tackle it, before it’s too late.

 

Father and two children fishing off pier in Indiana pond

Calendar of Events

Get involved in protecting Indiana’s Natural Resources! 

November 2019

Saturday, November 16

HEC 12th Annual Greening the Statehouse

IMMI Conference Center, Westfield, IN

From HEC’s website: “the largest annual gathering of environmentally-minded Hoosiers. It is the year’s best chance to learn about upcoming legislative issues, engage with environmental public policy experts, and network with environmental-minded Hoosiers and green-minded businesses from across the state.”

HEC’s Greening the Statehouse website (to learn more and register): https://www.hecweb.org/gts/ 


Wednesday, November 13, 7:00-8:00 pm

 

Environmental Sustainability in Indiana

Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington, IN

“Learn how Indiana has progressed, where it stands today, and how to make your daily life as sustainable as possible.”

Monroe County Public Library Events Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/monroe-county-public-library-indiana/environmental-sustainabiliity-in-indiana/407151913245640/


Tuesday, November 12, 5:00-6:00 pm

 

Muncie Environmental Impact Committee Meeting

Muncie City Hall, Muncie, IN

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2470711999840385/


Friday, November 1, 9-10:00 am
                 (repeats monthly to May 1)

 

IU Environmental Resilience Institute Climate Conversations

For more information, see the Environmental Resilience Institute Events website: https://events.iu.edu/eri/view/event/event_id/94368?utm_source=eri.iu.edu/events/index.html&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=framework&utm_term=standard&utm_content=2019-11-01-09-00-Climate%20Conversations 


CONTACT your Legislators to Register your Support for these Important Bills!

October, 2019

Public Transportation—SB285

SB285 is intended to enable communities across Indiana to raise dedicated funds for mass transit. (Public transportation lowers demand for fossil fuels and reduces carbon emissions contributing to climate change.)

 

Summary of SB285 (LegiScan.com):

Regional transit expansion.

Allows counties to impose an additional local income tax rate to fund the operations of a public transportation corporation and the operations of a rural transportation assistance program if the: (1) voters of the county approve a local public question; and (2) fiscal body of the county adopts an ordinance to impose the additional tax rate.

Provides that the rate must be at least 0.1% but not more than 0.25%. Excludes from this provision any county that is eligible to hold a referendum on funding transportation projects under the central Indiana public transportation projects statute.


 

CFO Regulation—HB1378

This legislation aims to impose, for the first time, air pollution limits on factory farms. It would also establish protective setbacks—a buffer zone between factory farms and nearby homes, public places, and environmentally-sensitive resources.

 

Summary of HB1378 (LegiScan.com):

Regulation of confined feeding operations.

Amends the law on confined feeding operations (CFOs), which include any confined feeding of at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, 30,000 fowl, or 500 horses.

Provides for the department of environmental management (IDEM) to issue CFO permits instead of “approvals.”

Provides that a person that owns a CFO, owns the livestock in a CFO, applies for a permit, permit renewal, or permit modification for a CFO, or is otherwise in direct or responsible charge of a CFO, is a “responsible party” with respect to the CFO and must disclose certain information.

Provides that a person may not start construction or operation of a CFO without obtaining a permit from IDEM and may not modify a CFO without obtaining a permit modification from IDEM.

Provides that the application for a permit or permit modification must be accompanied by: (1) plans and specifications prepared or certified by a professional engineer; (2) certain site-specific information; and (3) a site-specific air pollution control plan.

Requires IDEM to: (1) provide public access to a permit application through IDEM’s virtual file cabinet; (2) publish a notice requesting public comments on the application; (3) allow interested persons to submit written comments; and (4) hold a public hearing on the permit application upon written request.

Requires the commissioner of IDEM (commissioner) to deny an application for a permit or permit modification if the proposed activity would substantially endanger public health or the environment.

Authorizes IDEM to revoke a CFO permit if necessary to prevent or abate a substantial endangerment to public health or the environment.

Requires the environmental rules board (board) to adopt rules establishing: (1) limits on hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia emissions; and (2) requirements and prohibitions applying to new CFOs, CFOs proposed for expansion, and other existing CFOs.

Provides that the rules must prohibit a new or expanded CFO from being located within one mile of a residence unless the owner of the residence consents to a lesser setback or the commissioner determines that the CFO’s air pollution control plan will prevent the CFO from exceeding the limits on hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia emissions established by the rules of the board.

Makes technical corrections.


Net Metering—SB430 and HB1331

SB430 restores net metering, and HB1331 reduces burdens on potential solar panel owners who are part of homeowner associations.

 

Summary of SB430 (LegiScan.com):

Elimination of net metering phase out.

Eliminates provisions under which net metering (an arrangement under which an electric utility’s customer who has equipment for the production of electricity and who intermittently supplies electricity from that equipment to the electric utility is credited for the electricity that the customer supplies to the electric utility) would be partially ended by 2032 and completely ended by 2047.

Eliminates a limit on the aggregate amount of an electric utility’s net metering facility nameplate capacity that can be made available for customers’ participation in net metering.

Provides instead that the net metering facility nameplate capacity that an electric utility makes available for customers’ participation in net metering must be at least 3% of the electric utility’s most recent summer peak load.

Provides that, of the net metering facility nameplate capacity made available for customers’ participation in net metering, 30% must be reserved for participation by residential customers and not more than 5% must be reserved for participation by customers that install net metering facilities that use organic waste biomass.

 

Summary of HB1331 (LegiScan.com):

Homeowners associations.

Provides that, subject to certain specified exceptions, a homeowners association may not: (1) prohibit the owner of a dwelling unit from installing a solar energy system; (2) impose unreasonable limitations on the owner’s ability to install or use a solar energy system; or (3) require the removal of a solar energy system that has been installed.

Provides, however, that a homeowners association may require: (1) compliance with screening requirements imposed by the homeowners association; and (2) preapproval of the location of a solar energy system and of the manner in which the solar energy system is installed.

Applies only to rules, covenants, declarations of restrictions, and other governing documents adopted or amended by a homeowners association after June 30, 2019.

Provides that if a party to a dispute involving a homeowners association requests mediation, mediation is mandatory.

Provides that if neither party requests mediation, or if mediation is unsuccessful, a claimant may begin legal proceedings. Requires a mediation to be conducted in compliance with the Indiana supreme court rules for alternative dispute resolution.

Makes corresponding amendments to the provisions regarding grievance resolutions involving condominium associations.

 


Logging—SB610

Since 2005, 300-400% increases in logging have hurt wildlife habitats and hiking trails, also resulting in further damage caused by the growth of invasive plants and the construction of new gravel roads. Management plans must be developed for our state forests that require the exemption of a minimum of 10% of forested land from logging activity. SB610 offers a plan to limit logging in Indiana state forests.

 

Summary of SB610 (LegiScan.com):

State forest commission and management plan.

Establishes a state forest commission. Specifies the membership of the commission. Requires the commission to meet in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and to issue a written report establishing a plan for the management of the state forests for the 100-year period beginning in 2022.

Provides that the commission’s plan must contain certain recommendations and must embody certain principles.

Requires the state forest commission to set forth in its report the subjects discussed and issues raised concerning which the general assembly may choose to pass legislation.

Requires the natural resources commission to adopt rules incorporating the state forest commission’s determination about the percentage of state forest land falling within each of the three “priority use” categories.

Requires the natural resources commission, every seven years, to conduct a review of the implementation of the state forest commission’s plan and to adopt rules to revise the plan, as appropriate.

 

Legislators to contact to voice your support for SB610:

Melanie Wright is a member of the committee and local legislator; Jean Leising is the committee chairman; and committee members Mike Crider, Susan Glick, Don Lehe, and J. D. Prescott are opposed to the proposed changes in logging, and they need to hear from us.

 

CAFO Ordinance

Voice your support for an ordinance that will serve ALL Delaware County residents!

Even with the minimum setbacks and technology requirements being proposed in the draft, a Special Use Permit process would provide a transparent system for each site to be reviewed for its suitability for a CAFO operation.  

SEND YOUR COMMENTS BEFORE THE JANUARY MEETING DATES!  

IMPORTANT DATES 

*ATTEND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE*

03

JANUARY

Planning Commission Meeting
Commissioners Court Room (3rd floor County Building) @ 6:00 PM

08

County Commissioners Meeting
Commissioners Court Room (3rd floor County Building) @ 9:00 AM 

Commissioners


4 year terms

Meet 1st/3rd Mondays @ 9AM, Rm 309A

(765) 747-7730

 

 

President:

James King (R) exp. 12/20

 jking@co.delaware.in.us
765-747-7730

Vice President:

Sherry Riggin (R) 12/20

sriggin@co.delaware.in.us
765-213-1272 ext 301


100 W Main St, Muncie, IN 47305

 

 

District 3:

Shannon Henry (R) exp. 12/18

shenry@co.delaware.in.us
765-749-4026

 

Planning Commission

All communication with the planning Commission must be made through Marta Moody ATTN: Planning Commission Members

Kathy Carey, Jerry Dishman, Shannon Henry, Andrew Ellis, Teresa Hensley, Jesse Landess, Michael Mueller, Rickie Sipe, Nathan Vannatter

Marta Moody:

mmoody@co.delaware.in.us 

100 W Main St, Muncie, IN 47305

 

LWV UMRR Advocacy Update – and how you can get involved in comments to the proposed Clean Water Rule

 The dual mission of League of Women Voters – to educate voters and advocate on issues – is exemplified in the work of the LWV Upper Mississippi River Region.  We provide information on a variety of topics in this blog, through our newsletter, and in the educational meetings we co-sponsor with local Leagues.  And we advocate,  through taking and advocating for positions on key issues.  This post provides an update on work we are doing in three areas; the Farm Bill, the Clean Water Rule and  Foxconn.     

Link


LWV seeks to support non-operating owners of farmland
On December 3, 2018, LWV Upper Mississippi River Region held their bi-monthly Board meeting at the Coralville Public Library, in Johnson County, Iowa.   The educational event after the Board meeting featured speakers from the Woman, Food and Agriculture Network, and the Izaak Walton League.   These organizations, along with the LWV Upper Mississippi River Region, are reaching out to absentee landowners  – people who rent farmland for others to farm. 
Link

 

Frustrations…lack of progress…environmental groups are maddened but EPA is pleased…

The Cedar Rapids Gazette has dedicated resources to reporting on the progress of the twelve states that have agreed to work toward a 45% reduction in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged to the Mississippi, with a goal of reducing the ‘dead zone’ in the gulf. 

 Link


 

Support the work of the LWV UMRR
FOR A LIMITED ONLY, INDIVIDUALS MAKING DONATIONS AT LEAST $30 WILL BE SENT A HAND-DYED 100% SILK “LWV WATER SCARF” AS A THANK YOU!    These scarves are colored like water, in vibrant blues, greens and purples, see slide show below.  If you have a color preference, please email us at lwvumrr@lwvmn.org with that information.
Link

 

2018 Annual Meeting, Water Workshop and Banquet

This event was a great success – thanks to the excellent speakers who enlightened us and the attendees whose passion for water fueled significant discussions!  We are working now on a report that will document what we learned, watch this site for more information on that as it develops.   Here are links to videos of our speakers.

 Link


 

Historical Reference


Muncie is built on a wetland. Farmers and others wanted to get water to a river or ditch so agriculture or development could occur. To do this an unregulated system of ditches and pipes crisscrossed the land.

As populations grew and development continued, not surprisingly, problems arose. Storm water runoff from the streets contained horse manure, and later human waste was dumped into existing pipes creating a Combined Sewer System (CSS) with discharges into rivers and streams.

Who to Call

Before You Call

Drainage Forum Goal


The goal of the Drainage Forum was to educate citizens on the causes and potential solutions to flooding problems in the City of Muncie.

Panel members were:

R. Scott Rice-Snow, BSU Professor of Geological Sciences

Dick Weigel, HWC engineer

Gene Amlin, civil engineer.

Toni Cecil, Muncie Sanitary District Stormwater Compliance Inspector

Since the meeting Toni Cecil has been investigating residents’ drainage problems and a few are moving toward resolution.

Her contact information is 765-749-1114, tcecil@msdeng.com.

Drainage Forum Video

Modern Solutions


Delaware County in the 1990s and the City of Muncie in 2002 passed ordinances to control storm drainage and sediment with new development.

As a rule of thumb, development is not allowed to cause more water to leave the site than did before it was developed. This is achieved by designing drainage systems with detention and sizing release rates that conform to the pre-development rate.

During the planning process, any new or redevelopment requires drainage review.

In Muncie this is done by the City Engineer and based on the City Drainage Ordinance.

In Delaware County this is done by the County’s Consulting Engineers and based on the County Drainage Ordinance.

What Homeowner’s Can do

 

Who can help with my drainage issue?

• Delaware County Highway Department Engineer for areas beside or under county roads

• Indiana Department of Transportation for areas beside or under state highways;

• City Street Department for areas beside or under city streets;

• Muncie Sanitary District for infrastructure issues including storm drain inlets and buried stormwater pipes: Sewer Maintenance-phone 765-747-4852; Engineering-phone 765-747-4879

• Delaware County Surveyor (Tom Borchers, tborchers@co.delaware.in.us) for “Legal Drain”issues. Visit the office at the Delaware County Building, 100 W. Main Street, phone 765-747-7806, to determine the status of the ditch in question. Legal drains can be open ditches or buried pipes and are maintained by the County Surveyor and Drainage Board. The Drainage Board meets the 3rd Monday of the month at 2:30 PM.

 

 

Before you call:

  • Have the exact location ready. Know the name of the street, closest intersection and house numbers.
  • Be sure you are calling the appropriate office.
  • Find out if you need to be put on the agenda and when the meetings are held. Bring photos and diagrams.
  • Once reported, complaints need to be investigated. These investigations are in addition to the normal work load of the office. Be patient and allow the office time to follow up. If you do not hear back, call again.
  • Keep notes and records of calls and emails.

Please remember . . .

  • During times of flooding, flooded homes take priority over flooded streets or yards.
  • The person taking your call is rarely the person who has authority to make decisions.
  • Be courteous, firm, and to the point.
  • Find out if there is a plan for improvements in the area of concern. These are budgeted years in advance. Don’t expect instant upgrades to large areas. Factors that determine which city projects are undertaken include whether a project is already underway in the area; whether there are chronic drainage issues in the right of way; and whether regulations are driving a project.
  • There is power in numbers. Talk to your neighbors. Organize.
  • If not satisfied with the response you have received, find out who is the next level up. It might be the Mayor, County Commissioners, Sanitary District Board or Drainage Board.
  • During very heavy rain events, infrastructure can be overwhelmed. Water can only leave a street as fast as the size of pipe allows.
  • Consider getting flood insurance. You do not need to live in a flood zone to purchase it.Over 20% of claims are for buildings outside of flood zones.

 

 

 

What can you do to help your drainage?

• Install rain barrels and have downspouts take water away from house.

• Aging clay tiles from long ago are not regulated and are considered to be private issues.

They were never mapped and cannot be mapped now. New drainage and utilities have tracing wires to allow location. Land excavators must redirect or reconnect any clay tiles they find. This applies to do-it-yourselfers also.

• Storm drains do not go to the water treatment plant but go directly to the river. Drains can be clogged with grass clippings, leaves, and temporary sand or peat moss piles placed in the street.. Most people do not realize that under the storm drains in their streets is a catch basin that can fill up with debris, sediment, and leaves. Once the bottom fills up, stormwater has no place to go but back out into the street. The outlet pipe is small in diameter compared to the basin. The City of Muncie does have two Vactor trucks that vacuum the debris from the catch basins but cannot vacuum water from the streets.

 

Drainage Forum Thanks

I want to express my deep appreciation to all who helped make our forum on drainage the informative program it was.

Our panelists were outstanding: R. Scott Rice-Snow, Dick Weigel, and Toni Cecil, and Gene Amlin.

The program would not have been possible without assistance from League members and friends, and for that I give a big thank you to:

  • David LeBlanc was instrumental in getting the forum underway by obtaining speakers; and he stayed for meeting clean up.
  • WaTasha Griffin generously provided the YWCA’s Community Room, including tables,chairs, projector, etc., plus she did publicity work.
  • Eleanor Johnson researched and authored our handout.
  • Kathy Lee planned and executed delicious refreshments and helped with set up and clean up.
  • Jean Gadziola did set up and helped during the program.
  • Teresa Basey did social media advertising, helped during the meeting and put the program on the website.
  • Marnee Cooley helped during the meeting.
  • Linda Hanson gave her support and help from day one of this project and helped during the meeting and with cleanup.
  • Ed Hale made signs and mounted maps as well as helped with clean up.
  • Gunther Cartwright worked with our equipment to make the PowerPoint presentations possible and helped with clean up.
  • Heather Williams with Building Better Neighborhoods at BSU loaned a speaker and microphone.
  • Alex Romoser, Muncie Action Plan’s Administrative Coordinator, live-streamed the event.
  • Gary Rednour at Muncie Sanitary District Engineering made the six large maps.
  • And a special thank you to Naeem Thompson who provided the proper cable so we could hook the laptop to the projector.

Thank you all.

 

Lynn Hale

 
Flooding and drainage problems in Muncie will be the topic of a panel discussion on Saturday, November 10, at 10 AM in the Community Room of the YWCA, 310 East Charles Street, Muncie. 
Experts in drainage will present information including explaining the problems of specific flooding locations in Muncie.  There will be time for audience questions. 
The panel will consist of R. Scott Rice-Snow, BSU Professor of Geological Sciences; Toni Cecil, Muncie Sanitary District Stormwater Compliance Inspector; Dick Weigel, HWC engineer; and Gene Amlin, civil engineer. 
The program is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Muncie-Delaware County and is open to the public. 
Refreshments will be provided.

Submit Comments TODAY

Deadline October 29th

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is asking for permission to destroy records

about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more.  Please register your your objection.   

For details on how to submit comments by the October 29th deadline, as well as more information, go to:


As this website notes, the issue of eliminating records also applies more broadly but DOI’s unusually extensive proposals would be especially harmful.

2:00 PM Phone call 10/22/18

An informational call-in session this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. EDT for those that might be interested:

 

Update:  

ORSANCO (Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission) last week voted unanimously to table the proposal which would eliminate their Ohio River Pollution Control Standards.  

Thanks to all who submitted comments directly and/or wrote the governor asking him to communicate with Indiana’s three commissioners. 

The public response was overwhelmingly opposed to this change in ORSANCO’s role, which would leave the responsibility up to individual states along the river. 

They meet again mid-Feb, so stay tuned!

Writing letters to your government officials WORKS!