Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. has been selected to help shape the Indiana policies that are likely to control land drainage and conservation actions for years to come.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb last week appointed the Democratic Region surveyor to the state's new 19-member Drainage Task Force.

The task force is required, among other duties, to evaluate the responsibilities of landowners and government authorities under current drainage laws, assess whether conservation and pollution control goals are supplanting the draining of agricultural land and decide whether drainage authority in Indiana is too concentrated at the state level compared to neighboring states.

All determinations by the task force, and any recommendations for legislative action, must be submitted to the governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2023, according to Senate Enrolled Act 85.

The establishment of the task force follows a 2021 law enacted by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Holcomb eliminating most state wetlands protections and making nearly all Indiana wetlands eligible for drainage and development, or agricultural use.

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