Environmental agencies ask state leaders to 'step it up' after chemical spill

After a chemical spill that happened a week ago near Lake Michigan, Indiana environmental agencies say this is just the latest in reasons why constant water quality testing is important and they want to see state leaders step it up. These agencies say there needs to be less budget cuts and more wiggle room in the budget so they can do what they need to do without restraint.

“You can look at Charleston,West Virginia that had the chemical spill a couple years ago, Flint, Michigan. We don’t want to end up at the point where we’re on the precipice of disasters like that,” said Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says they’ve seen budget cuts for more than a decade and this alone is threatening the drinking water quality for millions of people. Tim Maloney who works with IDEM says Governor Holcomb’s 15.6 billion dollar budget allows just $200,000 to analyze water infrastructure, safety, and reliability. But Maloney says, after contamination factors like the chemical spill in a tributary of Lake Michigan in Portage last week, this just isn’t enough and there needs to be more, so he proposed a budget request for an additional 1.4 million dollars for the state’s drinking water program which could also help fund cleanup of contaminated sites.

“This program is particularly important in that IDEM helps train and certify the people that operate drinking water systems, and these are pretty technical systems that require significant training and expertise to make sure that the water that comes out of everybody's tap is safe to drink,” said Maloney.

State lawmakers are currently debating the budget plan and could finalize it as soon as this week.

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