Groups Focus on Sprawl and Water Issues
The Heartlands Group sprawl committee continues to focus on sprawl at a local level. The rapid loss of green space in Indianapolis remains an ongoing concern. We have received good press and continue to plan for ways to educate the public about the need for parks. We have heard promising words from the current administration but are waiting to see true action. The sprawl committee is also investing time in the comprehensive plan process, which is going on throughout Marion County. The plan is designed by citizens, planners, and interested people and guides the direction and style of development for the next decade.
We remain interested in transportation issues and hope to work in surrounding counties. Our sprawl handbook should be published this year, educating and empowering people to influence sprawl in their area. Water Issues Update by John Ulmer
The Eagle Creek Watershed Task Force, partially funded by the Sierra Club, has completed the first draft of the Watershed Management Plan. Sample collection is in the beginning stages for the E. coli DNA ribo-typing database. In addition, the task force continues to sample 10 sites in the watershed for pesticide, herbicide, and nutrient runoff. The watershed provides drinking water for approximately 70,000 households in the Indianapolis metro area.
While Indianapolis is preparing its Long-Term Control Plan for combined sewer overflows (CSOs), concern exists about the amount of “imported” sewage from surrounding counties. This sewer service extension across the county boundary poses perplexing planning issues. Surrounding counties have difficulty limiting development, thus increasing sprawl. It is difficult for Indianapolis to plan for sewage treatment capacity without projected growth figures for areas outside Marion County, served by private utilities. Because it appears the CSO problem will require fewer resources, the Heartlands Group is focusing on septic systems this year while maintaining participation with the Eagle Creek Watershed Task Force.
We are working on the Wetland Water Quality Standards formulation by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, commenting on the Gary/Chicago Airport master plan’s impact on dune and swale wetlands and a state nature preserve, and commenting on our municipal planning agency transportation plans, which will have a big effect on sprawl. We are also working on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, Alaska Wilderness legislation, and the Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge/Corps of Engineers plan for the Kankakee River.
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