The Kankakee River
Basin Commission (KRBC), which serves the water resource planning needs of
eight Northwest Indiana counties, has selected Scott Pelath as its new
executive director. Pelath replaces longtime director Jody Melton, who is
retiring after nearly forty years of KRBC leadership.
Pelath joins the
KRBC after twenty years of representing portions of LaPorte and Porter
County in the Indiana House of Representatives. During that time, he
frequently focused on natural resource issues in positions of senior
legislative and fiscal leadership, including five years as minority leader.
Among his numerous legislative accomplishments was sponsorship of the Great
Lakes Water Use Compact, which is now law in every Great Lakes state and
Canadian province, and authorship of the current structure of the Northwest
Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
“I am elated by the
opportunity to forge consensus for the future of the Kankakee River Basin,”
said Pelath. “Throughout my years of public service, I always held a
particular passion for natural resources and the careful stewardship of our
economic prosperity, our food supply, and our health and quality of life
depend on careful water resource planning and a shared sense of purpose.
This unique challenge of improving our Northern Indiana region is one I find
deeply invigorating, and I cannot thank the KRBC enough for their
coordinates the water resources and water-related land resources of the
basin through flood control projects, drainage maintenance, and initiatives
to enhance the environment for both conservation and recreational
development. Through its work, the commission seeks to promote and sustain
surface and ground water for agricultural, residential, recreational, and
commercial needs. The KRBC’s long-term goals directly pertain to overall
water quality, fishery restoration, wetlands and aquatic habitats, and the
future availability of the region’s water supply.
KRBC Chairman and
Newton County Surveyor Chris Knochel said the commission looked for a new
director with a history of working with diverse stakeholders, significant
public policy experience, and proven communication leadership.
“As impossible as
it is to replace Jody Melton’s decades of outstanding service, we believe
Scott’s own unique skill sets will serve our goals well,” said Knochel.
“The KRBC serves
eight different counties, their local governments, and stakeholders ranging
from farmers, businesses, homeowners, and conservationists. Just about every
citizen has an interest in improving our water, and it takes someone like
Scott to be able to hear everyone while keeping an eye on the greater good.
We could not be more optimistic about the future.”
The Kankakee River
Basin Commission was created in 1977, and represents eight Northwest Indiana
counties: Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Porter, Starke, and St.
Joseph. Its twenty-four members includes a representative of each county’s
commissioners, the eight county surveyors, and a supervisor from each of the
basin’s soil and water districts. The Kankakee Basin comprises 1.9 million
acres, of which almost 1.6 million acres has been used as cropland.