Stormwater group finds common ground mulling water issues

2013-03-23T17:30:00Z 2013-03-23T17:59:15Z Stormwater group finds common ground mulling water issuesChas Reilly, (219) 662-5324

Involvement in the Northwest Indiana Stormwater Advisory Group hasn't tapered off since the group was formed about eight months ago, members said.

"I think we're doing a very good job," said Tim Kingsland, Hobart Sanitary District coordinator, who helped create the group.

The panel meets monthly to develop common goals, discuss stormwater issues in communities and determine ways to share resources.

"We're just trying to do what residents expect of us," Kingsland said.

Stormwater officials from about 20 communities in Lake and Porter counties have been involved so far in meetings, he said.

Kingsland said it's beneficial for the officials to coordinate because water that drains out of one community will enter a different municipality.

"Water doesn't know political boundaries,"  said Matt Lake, executive director of Merrillville's Stormwater Utility.

Lake said each member of the volunteer group has different areas of expertise. They provide training sessions at regular meetings so members can learn from each other, he said.

Kingsland said many municipalities have developed publications explaining stormwater issues. The group shares the layouts and information so members don't have to recreate brochures for their communities.

The group also is looking at the possibility of sharing equipment.

Lake described members as free consultants because of the information they share about experiences with stormwater issues.

Greg White, who became Lowell's stormwater operator in November, said the group has been beneficial for him and Lowell.

White said he has received "a lot of advice" since joining the group and he has enjoyed finding out about stormwater projects happening in other communities.

Lake said he expects stormwater regulations could become stricter for local municipalities. Group members can help each other prepare for those regulations.

He said another way the group can provide assistance is when stormwater departments seek grants for projects. Lake said group members can write letters of support for the grants.

Kingsland said he welcomes other communities that haven't joined, and it's possible the group could expand it's membership into LaPorte County.

"The door is open," Kingsland said.

Lake believes the region has had a hard time getting together on a common theme, and he hopes the group can set an example of how municipal entities can work together to share ideas, experiences and resources to assist each other.

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