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The Three Rivers: Industry

Manufacturing is one of the largest sectors in Indiana’s economy. While it’s the source of many  jobs in the state, some claim it also contributes a lot of pollution to our waterways. But not in the  way you might think.

We continues our series "The Three Rivers" with a look at the state of water  regulations for industry in Indiana.

The Hoosier State has been recognized again and again as being good for business. Andrew Berger of the Indiana Manufacturers Association says everyone should be working to  keep it that way. 

“Whether that be tax policy or environmental regulation or economic development incentives," says Berger, "I  think there’s a recognition across state government that we need to be working with that industry  to provide for its health and competitiveness.”

Berger says manufacturers are used to meeting water pollution guidelines issued by the Indiana  Department of Environmental Management. The Clean Water Act passed in 1972, and gave each  state authority to set their own standards.

Bruno Pigott of IDEM says standards have gotten more stringent each year.

“It really has made a big difference in terms of water quality in the state and around the nation,  there’s still challenges though," says Pigott. "Our job is not done.”

Kim Ferraro with the Hoosier Environmental Council agrees. She says it’s great that there’s such  strict regulation on what’s called point­source pollution ­ Imagine a manufacturer with a pipe  running discharge directly into a river. But non­point source pollution, runoff from farms, cities,  or manufacturers, isn’t nearly as regulated.

“We’ve got to move away from the policy under the Clean Water Act that treats non­point source  pollution as sort of a non­entity" says Ferraro. "Under the Clean Water Act it’s all voluntary measures.”

Ferraro says non­point source pollution is the biggest contributor to impaired waterways. She  says Indiana has really done nothing to address that, but other states haven’t either.

She says the problem won’t get any better until legislators act.

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