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Key Water Bills Ready for Votes in House, Senate

2018-01-26T14:25:01+00:00January 26th, 2018|

Bill # and Title: HB 1267 – Water Infrastructure Task Force
Author: Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso)
Summary: Establishes a Water Infrastructure Taskforce consisting of 14 members including: the chair of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), four other ex-officio members, three members of the Senate, three members of the House of Representatives and three members appointed by the Governor. It requires the task force to: (1) study drinking water systems, wastewater management systems and storm water management systems; (2) create an empirical decision-making tool that will allow policymakers to prioritize water infrastructure projects; and (3) develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water, wastewater and storm water management needs in Indiana. Requires the taskforce to submit a report containing certain recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor not later than December 1, 2018.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the House Utilities, Energy, and Telecommunications Committee last week; amended on Wednesday and then voted out 13-0; now eligible for further action on the House floor.

Update/Chamber Action: An amendment added this week requires that one of the members appointed by the Governor be based on the recommendation of the Indiana Chamber.

This bill is consistent with the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. The taskforce will develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water and wastewater needs in Indiana. The business community will also be represented.


Bill # and Title:
SB 361 – Water Infrastructure TaskForce
Author: Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso)
Summary: This bill establishes a Water Infrastructure Taskforce consisting of two members of the Senate, two members of the House of Representatives and five Governor’s appointees. Requires the taskforce to: (1) study drinking water systems and wastewater management systems; and (2) develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water and wastewater needs in Indiana. Requires the taskforce to submit a report containing certain recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor not later than December 1, 2018.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the Environmental Affairs Committee on Monday and passed by a vote of 8-0; now eligible for further action on the Senate floor.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber provided testimony that this bill, a priority, is consistent with one of the goals of the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. The taskforce will develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water and wastewater needs in Indiana. An integral part of a water resources plan is the ability of the state’s water utilities to create and execute long-range plans. It builds on Senate Bills 416 and 511 from 2017.


Bill # and Title:
SB 362 – Regulation of Water and Wastewater Systems
Author: Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso)
Summary: This bill provides that a water or wastewater utility that begins providing service to the public after June 30, 2018, is subject to the jurisdiction of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) with respect to rates and charges and other matters for the period of 10 years beginning on the day on which the water or wastewater utility begins providing service to the public. Amends the laws concerning the wastewater revolving loan program and the drinking water revolving loan program to require a demonstration that each participant to which a loan would be made has the financial, managerial, technical and legal capability of operating and maintaining its system and has developed or is in the process of developing an asset management program. Establishes new requirements for water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants applying to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for the issuance or amendment of a permit, including a cost-benefit analysis, a capital asset management plan and a cybersecurity program.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the Environmental Affairs Committee on Monday and passed by a vote of 9-0; now eligible for further action on the Senate floor.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber provided testimony that this bill is consistent with one of the goals of the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, which has identified water resources as an important consideration in economic development. This bill requires a cost-benefit analysis and asset management plan before a new water or wastewater utility can provide service. It also keeps new utilities under the review of the IURC for 10 years when they could have otherwise opted out of IURC jurisdiction. This should reduce the number of small utilities that become distressed or troubled under Indiana law, thus keeping customers’ costs lower. It builds on Senate Bills 416 and 511 from 2017.


Bill # and Title:
  SB 417 – Distance Between Water Well and Septic System
Author: Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse)
Summary: This bill requires the Natural Resources Commission and the State Board of Health to adopt joint rules establishing a minimum distance that must exist between a residential septic system and the location in which a water well is drilled. Provides that the holder of a water well driller’s license may be reprimanded by the director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a first violation of these rules, that the holder of a water well driller’s license who commits a second or subsequent violation of these rules commits a Class B infraction and that the director may revoke the water well driller’s license of a licensee who commits a third violation of these rules.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the Natural Resources Committee on Monday and passed by a vote of 7-0; now eligible for further action on the Senate floor.

Update/Chamber Action: We support the bill because it is consistent with one of the goals of the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. The Chamber supports a comprehensive Indiana water policy to better manage this valuable resource and promote our water resources as a strong economic attractor.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: gellis@indianachamber.com