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COA affirms Avon ordinance invalid

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The Town of Avon’s attempt to regulate by ordinance a township and conservancy district’s ability to remove and sell groundwater located in a park failed because the ordinance violated Indiana law, the Indiana Court of Appeals held today.

The West Central Conservancy District was in the process of studying and attempting to provide a water supply based on the discovery of water aquifers under Washington Township’s Community Park when Avon enacted an ordinance to control and regulate taking of water from a watercourse. The ordinance gave Avon the exclusive right to control and regulate water within 10 miles of the town’s municipal limits and only the town could sell and distribute water. The ordinance defined watercourses, but the statute the ordinance relies on doesn’t mention groundwater, aquifers, or any water that is below ground.

The WCCD and township sued claiming the ordinance violated the Home Rule Act because only state agencies can regulate surface and groundwater. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of WCCD and the township.

Avon can regulate watercourses, but its regulation in the instant case hinges on whether an aquifer is a “watercourse” under Indiana law. In Town of Avon v. West Central Conservancy District, et al., No. 32A05-1003-PL-149, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, finding aquifers are not considered a “watercourse” under Indiana Code Section 36-5-2-10.

“More particularly, the Park’s aquifers and groundwater are not lakes, rivers, or streams, and the definition of ‘watercourse' in Indiana Code section 36-9-1-10 necessarily includes only bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and streams. Indeed, the General Assembly would have simply used the term ‘water’ or even ‘aquifers’ or ‘groundwater’ in the Watercourse Statutes if it intended such a broad sweep,” wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

Because an aquifer is not a watercourse, Avon has no authority to restrict what the WCCD and township choose to do with the groundwater in the aquifers.

In addition, the appellate court held the Home Rule act doesn’t grant Avon the authority to regulate in accordance with its inherent police powers and the town lacks the authority to review, regulate, or impose duties on the WCCD or township’s exercise of power to sell the groundwater under the Park Resource Statute. Avon can’t interfere with WCCD and the township’s common law right to use the groundwater in its aquifers as it sees fits, wrote the chief judge.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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