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Great Lakes Article:

Regional planners move to protect water sources
By Charles M. Bartholomew
Post-Tribune (IN)
Published April 29, 2005


PORTAGE — The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission said Thursday it will help communities where planners and developers will no longer be able to count on the availability of water from Lake Michigan.

That includes every city and town in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties, regardless of whether they are north or south of the Great Lakes Basin divide that splits the region, according to consultant Sarah Nerenberg.

Nerenberg said negotiations are taking place among the eight U.S. governors and their two Canadian counterparts that will make it more difficult to get approval for using Lake Michigan as a source of water, even for areas in the basin.

The result will be that future development, which will occur in the central part of the three counties, straddling the divide, will have to depend on existing groundwater sources and the Kankakee River to the south, she said.

The commission approved on a unanimous voice vote a Water Resources Toolkit developed over the last 18 months with a grant from the Joyce Foundation that will help communities protect these sources of water for drinking and commercial use.

“We’ve developed this to serve communities throughout the Great Lakes Basin,” Nerenberg said.

The kits have information and resources to assist planners with making decisions to allow growth while maintaining the quality of water sources.

She said 300 kits, each with a CD-ROM that can be downloaded, are available, and another 700 will be prepared as a result of inquiries from cities and towns throughout the Great Lakes region.

“This tool kit is going to get us a lot of attention,” Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke predicted.

Removal of water from the Great Lakes is controlled by international treaty, and any diversion of water out of the basin must be approved by the chief executives of all 10 states and provinces.

The commission also gave voice approval to three resolutions for the Connections 2030 Regional Transportation Plan that had been stalled by a failure to meet goals for ozone levels in the state air quality plan.

The resolutions add a list of state and local projects in LaPorte County, which is covered by looser rules, to the plan and puts 17 state and eight local Lake and Porter County projects on hold until IDEM formulates new air pollution standards for the current ones that expire in June.

NIRPC’s action preserves projects in progress in Lake and Porter counties.

, including work on the Borman Expressway, the Toll Road, U.S. 6, and the Gary Marina access road, subject to federal approval of the compromise which could come as early as July, Swanson said.

Brietzke took occasion to note Thursday’s Post-Triune story on the American Lung Association’s unfavorable report on the region’s air quality.

He said, “We have some good things happening I wish had been reported.”

NIRPC air quality manager Reggie Korthals said the ALA’s reports are often “alarmist” and said her agency is awaiting the outcome of meetings between the region’s Air Quality Steering Committee and IDEM on formulating new standards for ozone and particulates.

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