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Water Quality in Indiana



The mission of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is to implement federal and state regulations to protect human health and the environment while allowing the environmentally sound operations of industrial, agricultural, commercial and governmental activities vital to a prosperous economy. The mission of IDEM’s Office of Water Quality (OWQ), under the oversight of the Assistant Commissioner of OWQ, is to concentrate on fulfilling IDEM’s mission where water quality is concerned. More specifically, OWQ is responsible for protecting public health and the environment by assessing the quality of surface water and groundwater through biological and chemical testing; regulating and monitoring drinking water supplies (including wellhead protection), wastewater treatment facilities and the construction of such facilities; and, protecting wetlands for proper drainage, flood protection and wildlife habitat. OWQ serves the citizens of Indiana through fulfilling responsibilities as set forth in the Clean Water Act.

Watershed Assessment and Planning Branch

The Watershed Assessment and Planning Branch houses the watershed programs as well as the water quality assessment and monitoring programs. The monitoring programs operate through the Probabilistic and Targeted Sections that provide for the various programs that collect everything from water chemistry, E. coli, and sediment to fish, macroinvertebrate, and algae data. Aquatic habitat data is also collected. The data is then analyzed and used for statewide and watershed specific surface water-related assessments and planning projects. Also managed through the Branch are Watershed grants (Nonpoint Source and Water Quality Planning) and the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Program. Quality assurance/quality control and support for the programs is provided by staff in the Technical and Logistical Support Section, which includes spatial and tabular data management, quality review of collected and submitted data, and laboratory, equipment, and vehicle management and logistics. The branch also supports water quality standards development, NPDES permitting and compliance activities, public health advisories, such as for fish consumption and blue-green algae, the volunteer monitoring network, and the IndianaMap.

Surface Water, Operations, and Enforcement Branch

The Surface Water, Operation, and Enforcement Branch contain three separate sections the Wetland and Storm Water Section, Enforcement Section as well as Operations Section.

The Wetland portion of the branch addresses activities in Wetlands, Lakes and Streams to ensure that those activities maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of these waters. When a project is planned in Indiana that will impact a wetland, lake, river, stream, or other Water of the U.S., the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) must issue a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (401 WQC).

The Storm Water Program manages the permitting of large municipal storm water dischargers, storm water associated with industrial activity, storm water associated with construction activity and storm water associated with Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s).

The Operations Section of the Branch deals with several different functions for the Office of Water Quality. These include the budget, Wastewater Fees and Drinking Water Fees, Regional Sewer Districts, and the Geothermal Program.

Finally, the last section of the Branch concentrates on all enforcement issue within the OWQ.