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Report: Indiana Needs to Come Clean

November 11, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Young's Creek, the Turtle Creek Reservoir, and Geist Reservoir are just a few of the Indiana waterways and water bodies that show up on a list that no one wants them to be on. The list is in a report on polluted lakes and rivers in the state, released this week by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC). The report details the ways in which the fouled waterways are affecting people's quality of life across the state.

Howard Learner, the executive director of the ELPC, says that in many cases people can no longer use these waters for recreation.

"That's just really sad. We ought to be able to go out and fish, and swim, and canoe, and enjoy the rivers and the lakes, and the streams that are part of our communities."

Learner says Indiana's weak state policies and lax enforcement have allowed the state's rivers and lakes to become fouled by algae blooms, toxins, sedimentation and dangerous pathogens.

He asserts that all Indiana's leaders have to do is look to several neighbors in the Midwest for some answers.

"Indiana is a little bit behind, but they're seeing models in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, of how to do it and how to do it better."

In many cases, those opposed to tougher regulation say it will cost jobs and increase state spending, but Learner says clean water saves money on health care and brings in more dollars by attracting tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.

"That's a goal that we should achieve, and our public officials should help lead the way, be part of the solution, not part of the pollution problem."

A new website which gives Indiana residents the tools to tell their own stories about water pollution and take action to clean up waterways across the state is at www.inourwater.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - IN