INDIANAPOLIS — It is perhaps the beginning of the end for flooding along the Kankakee and Yellow rivers in Northwest Indiana.
On Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law House Enrolled Act 1270, creating a permanent $3 million a year funding source for flood prevention projects to be undertaken by a reconstituted Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission.
The new law requires eight Northwest Indiana counties to pay a proportionate fee, starting in 2021, for river bank stabilization, channel reconstruction, sediment removal, water storage and similar projects to prevent a repeat of last year's devastating floods in southern Lake and Porter counties.
The annual fee for each county is: Lake $428,298; Porter $300,941; LaPorte $707,624; Newton $103,645; Jasper $190,138; Marshall $586,168; St. Joseph $377,882; and Starke $295,469, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
Under the law, county officials can use existing tax revenue to cover their share, which is based on how much land in each county drains into the rivers, or impose a special assessment on each parcel of property located in the river basins.
The maximum allowable assessment is $1 per acre for farmland, $7 for a residential parcel, $50 for commercial and $360 for industrial or utility.
To get the flood control work started, the new state budget in House Enrolled Act 1001 appropriates $2.3 million for levee repair and rehabilitation projects between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
The law also shrinks to nine members the current 24-member commission, with each new member required to have experience in construction, project management, flood control or drainage.
The commissioners in each county appoint one member of the new river basin commission. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources director is the ninth member, and two nonvoting members from Illinois' Kankakee and Iroquois counties also can serve in an advisory capacity.