A Guide to the Indiana Lake Preservation Act Requirements, Process, and Compliance

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act: A Comprehensive Guide provides a thorough exploration of this crucial state regulation, which aims to protect and preserve Indiana's vital lake resources. Through this guide, readers will gain a deep understanding of the Act's applicability, key provisions, and compliance obligations, enabling them to navigate the complexities of lake-related projects with confidence. By delving into the Act's prohibitions, permit requirements, and enforcement mechanisms, this guide offers invaluable insights into the legal framework surrounding lake preservation in Indiana. Moreover, the guide highlights recent developments and provides a regulatory outlook, equipping readers with the knowledge needed to stay ahead of evolving requirements. With a wealth of additional resources and practical guidance, this guide serves as an essential tool for effectively managing projects while ensuring the long-term health and beauty of Indiana's cherished lakes.


Key Details of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act

Issuing Agency: Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Year Established: 1947
Last Amended: 2022
Statutory Authority: Indiana Lake Preservation Act, Indiana Code 14-26-2
Primary Legal Reference: Indiana Code, Title 14, Article 26, Chapter 2

Overview of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act is a state regulation that operates within the broader framework of Indiana's environmental laws and regulations. It is administered and enforced by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Act was first enacted in 1947 and has undergone several amendments over the years, with the most recent significant amendment in 2022.[^1]

The primary goal of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act is to protect and preserve the natural resources, scenic beauty, and recreational value of Indiana's lakes. It aims to prevent the degradation of water quality, erosion of shorelines, and loss of aquatic habitat caused by unregulated development and activities in and around lakes.

The Act achieves its goals by requiring permits for various activities that may impact lakes, such as dredging, filling, construction of piers and seawalls, and aquatic vegetation control. It also establishes standards and guidelines for these activities to minimize their negative impacts on lakes.[^3]

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act applies to all public freshwater lakes in the state, which are defined as navigable waterways that have been used by the public with the acquiescence of a riparian owner. It does not apply to privately owned lakes or lakes owned by public utilities.[^4]

What does the Indiana Lake Preservation Act protect?

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act protects the natural resources, scenic beauty, and recreational value of Indiana's public freshwater lakes. Specifically, it protects lakes from the negative impacts of unregulated development and activities, such as:

  1. Water quality degradation caused by erosion, sedimentation, and pollution
  2. Shoreline erosion and loss of natural vegetation
  3. Loss of aquatic habitat and wildlife
  4. Impairment of scenic beauty and recreational opportunities

The Act achieves this protection by requiring permits for activities that may impact lakes and establishing standards and guidelines to minimize their negative impacts. These activities include dredging, filling, construction of piers and seawalls, and aquatic vegetation control.[^6]

[^1]: Indiana Code 14-26-2, http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2022/ic/titles/014#14-26-2. [^3]: Indiana Code 14-26-2-23, http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2022/ic/titles/014#14-26-2-23. [^4]: Indiana Code 14-26-2-1, http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2022/ic/titles/014#14-26-2-1. [^6]: Indiana Code 14-26-2-23.


Regulated Activities & Entities

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act, codified in Indiana Code 14-26-2[^100], is a comprehensive environmental regulation aimed at protecting and preserving the state's lakes and reservoirs. The Act regulates various activities and entities that have the potential to impact these valuable water resources, including industries, municipalities, and individuals engaging in construction, dredging, or other activities near or within lakes and reservoirs.

The Act prohibits the following activities and substances in order to prevent pollution, erosion, and other detrimental effects on Indiana's lakes and reservoirs:

  1. Discharge of pollutants, including chemicals, waste materials, and other contaminants, into lakes or reservoirs without proper permits or authorization.
  2. Dredging, filling, or altering the shoreline or bed of a lake or reservoir without obtaining the necessary approvals from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
  3. Construction of piers, docks, or other structures that extend beyond the shoreline or into navigable waters without proper permits.
  4. Removal of natural vegetation or trees along the shoreline, which can lead to increased erosion and sedimentation.
  5. Introduction of non-native or invasive aquatic species that can disrupt the ecological balance of lakes and reservoirs.

These prohibitions are essential for maintaining water quality, preserving aquatic habitats, and ensuring the long-term health and recreational value of Indiana's lakes and reservoirs.

Structure and Key Provisions

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act is organized into several key sections that outline definitions, prohibitions, permitting requirements, and enforcement provisions. Some of the most important sections include:

Section 14-26-2-1: Definitions

This section provides definitions for key terms used throughout the Act, such as "lake," "reservoir," "shoreline," and "person." Understanding these definitions is crucial for determining the applicability of the Act to specific projects or activities.

Section 14-26-2-5: Prohibitions

This section outlines the general prohibitions on activities that may adversely affect lakes and reservoirs, such as the discharge of pollutants, dredging, and shoreline alteration without proper permits or authorization.

Section 14-26-2-10: Permit requirements

This section describes the permit requirements for activities regulated under the Act, including the application process, fees, and criteria for approval. It is essential for entities engaging in regulated activities to familiarize themselves with these requirements and obtain the necessary permits before proceeding with their projects.

Section 14-26-2-23: Enforcement and penalties

This section outlines the enforcement mechanisms and penalties for violations of the\F1 Act, including fines, injunctions, and other legal actions. It also grants the IDNR the authority to issue orders compelling compliance with the Act's provisions.

While this overview provides a general understanding of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act's structure and key provisions, it is crucial for readers to consult the full text of the regulation and engage with the relevant agencies, such as the IDNR, for project-specific guidance and assistance in navigating the permitting has been removed.


Regulatory Standards & Limitations

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act establishes various standards and limitations to protect the state's lakes and ensure their preservation for future generations. These standards may include restrictions on activities that could harm lake ecosystems, such as dredging, filling, or construction in or near lakes1. The Act also sets performance standards for projects that may impact lakes, such as requirements for erosion control, stormwater management, and restoration of disturbed areas2. Compliance with these standards is typically implemented through a permitting process, where developers must obtain approval from the relevant state agencies before proceeding with any regulated activities3. Enforcement of these standards is carried out through inspections, monitoring, and potential penalties for violations4.

Monitoring, Reporting & Recordkeeping Obligations

Under the Indiana Lake Preservation Act, regulated entities may be subject to various monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements to ensure compliance with the established standards and limitations. These obligations may include regular monitoring of water quality, habitat conditions, or other environmental indicators5. Developers may also be required to submit periodic reports to the relevant agencies, documenting their compliance with permit conditions and any mitigation measures implemented6. Recordkeeping requirements may involve maintaining detailed records of project activities, monitoring data, and compliance efforts7.

Enforcement Actions & Penalties

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act provides for various enforcement actions that may be taken by state agencies in response to violations of the Act's provisions. These actions may include the issuance of notices of violation, which inform the regulated entity of the specific violations and require corrective action8. In more serious cases, the agencies may issue administrative orders, which may mandate specific actions to be taken or impose penalties9. Civil and criminal penalties may also be assessed for violations of the Act, with the severity of the penalties depending on factors such as the nature and extent of the violation, the potential for harm to the environment, and the violator's compliance history10. To avoid enforcement actions and penalties, it is essential for developers and consultants to prioritize proactive compliance and engage early with the relevant agencies to ensure that their projects adhere to all applicable requirements of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act.


Recent Developments & Regulatory Outlook

The Indiana Lake Preservation Act has undergone several significant developments in recent years that have shaped the current regulatory landscape. In 2021, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 389, which amended the Act to streamline the permitting process for certain activities, such as the construction of temporary piers and the removal of invasive aquatic vegetation. This amendment has made it easier for developers and property owners to undertake these activities while still ensuring the protection of Indiana's lakes.

Another notable development was the Indiana Supreme Court's decision in Gunderson v. State (2017), which clarified the scope of the public trust doctrine in relation to the Act. The court held that the public trust doctrine applies to the shores of Indiana's lakes, meaning that the state holds these areas in trust for the benefit of the public. This decision has implications for property owners and developers seeking to undertake activities along lake shores, as they may need to consider the public's right to access and use these areas.

Looking ahead, there are several proposed amendments to the Indiana Lake Servation Act that are currently under consideration. One such proposal would expand the Act's jurisdiction to include smaller lakes and ponds, which are currently not covered by the regulation. If adopted, this amendment could significantly increase the number of water bodies subject to the Act's permitting requirements, affecting developers and environmental consultants working on projects near these smaller water features.

Additional Resources

Indiana Lake Preservation Act Full Text: The complete text of the Indiana Lake Preservation Act, including all amendments as of the 2021 legislative session.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Indiana Lake Preservation Act CLE Course: A continuing legal education course offered by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, focusing on the Indiana Lake Preservation Act and its legal implications for attorneys and environmental professionals.


  1. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-5 (2021)

  2. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-9 (2021)

  3. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-10 (2021)

  4. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-23 (2021)

  5. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-14 (2021)

  6. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-15 (2021)

  7. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-16 (2021)

  8. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-24 (2021)

  9. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-25 (202ib)

  10. Indiana Code § 14-26-2-26 (2021)

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A Note to Our Readers: We hope this guide is a valuable resource in helping you better understand the Indiana Lake Preservation Act. However, it's not a substitute for professional advice and doesn't cover every scenario. Always consult with regulatory bodies and professionals for the most current advice and project-specific guidance.