Council wants regulations to prevent groundwater problems

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When it comes to protecting homeowners from rising water, the South Bend Common Council is not waiting for the mayor to come up with a solution. Members of the council want to tighten regulations in areas where groundwater could damage property to avoid another Rum Village situation.

"In a nutshell, we are changing the rules when it comes down to what will be required when people get and seek building permits,” said Oliver Davis, District 6.

Before a permit is granted, the council wants soil and water maps to be reviewed; the varying water level calculated; and a check done to see if the building would exist in an area where at least half-a-million gallons of water is being pumped out of the ground daily.

"This is a methodical method, to mitigate potential problems; but it's not a guarantee,” said council attorney Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand.

Davis says the new legislation would authorize the building commissioner to require remedies to any problems revealed, before granting the permit.

"This is safety for our citizens, safety for our property values, safety for all of our investments,” said Davis.

Still some question whether this would drive business away.

Supporters don't think so.

"The proactive nature of this bill is anticipation that we may get new businesses moving into the city of South Bend that will have a lot of water draw down,” said Cekanski-Ferrand.

Because of that, Davis says the possibility of another water level problem cannot be tolerated.

"The more you know, the more you're responsible; and the better decisions you have to make,” said Davis.

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