Before You Build

Resources, requirements and restrictions to consider when building on Valparaiso’s Chain of Lakes


The General Assembly empowered the Department of Natural Resources with the responsibility to oversee various construction activities within, over and/or under the State’s waterways through the creation of a number of regulatory programs. These statutes were enacted to allow the State’s water related resources to be utilized in a prudent manner while simultaneously minimizing induced flood related damages and protecting Indiana’s environmental and cultural resources.

Lakes Preservation Act Description:

The Lakes Preservation Act states that the natural resources and natural scenic beauty of Indiana’s public freshwater lakes are a public right. It further states that the general public “has a vested right in the … preservation, protection, and enjoyment of all public freshwater lakes … in their present state” and in the “… use of the public freshwater lakes for recreational purposes”. To ensure that these rights are preserved, the Act provides the State with “… full power and control of all of the public freshwater lakes” and mandates that the State hold and control “.. all public freshwater lakes in trust for the use of all citizens of Indiana”.

The Legislature created a permitting program within the Lakes Preservation Act to provide the State with the authority to fulfill its statutory obligation. Section 6 of the Act details this program by stating that “a person may not change the level of the water or the shoreline of a public freshwater lake by … excavating; filling in; or otherwise causing a change in the area or depth of; or affecting the natural resources, scenic beauty, or contour of; the lake below the waterline or shoreline without a written permit issued by the Department”. Simply stated, any activity that occurs at or lakeward of a public freshwater lake’s legal or average normal shoreline requires the written authorization of the Department prior to project initiation.

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- Walt Breitinger