Northwest Indiana Great Lakes Basin Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Assistance Program
Lake County, IN

Grantee: Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $2,500
Project Duration: 09/1994 - 08/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District estimates that over 2.5 million pounds of suspended solids are loaded into the Grand Calumet River from non-point sources during each 2-year, 24-hour storm. A computer model of the Deep River and Turkey Creek watersheds also demonstrates that an additional 13,776 of soil erode during each 10-year frequency storm event.

Artificial Wetland

The goal of the program was to improve water quality in the Great Lakes sub-basin of Lake Michigan by controlling both urban and rural nonpoint source (NPS) pollution generated in northwest Indiana, including the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern (AOC). The project sought to broaden the applications of Best Management Practices (BMPs) through technical and educational efforts, as called for in Indiana's NPS plan. The technical efforts consisted of the implementation of five soil erosion and sedimentation control BMPs to reduce loadings into storm drains, combined sewer overflows, ditches, and other watercourses in five major sub-watersheds covering 174,720 acres. Educational efforts were designed to build and strengthen coalitions between private industry, environmental groups, and government units and enhance their knowledge of soil erosion and sedimentation control practices identified in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) NPS Program and Stage I Remedial Action Plan (RAP).

Under the direction of a Natural Resource Coordinator, hired on April 20, 1995, project activities included:

  • Establishing a partnership with Northern Indiana Public Service Company, a major corporation, regarding their ownership of land along Wolf Lake and their interest in its revitalization. A Wolf Watershed Partnership tour was held to highlight the creation of an artificial wetland, the proposed planting on a slag field and the progress of the bank stabilization program. Twenty-six people representing agencies and individuals such as the mayor and planner of the City of Hammond, representatives from Indiana's Environmental Management and Natural Resources departments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state conservation. planning, local conservation groups (Save the Dunes, the Nature Conservancy and the Grand Calumet River Task Force), and print and electronic media. The two major newspapers, whose combined circulation is over 200,000, both reported the event as a lead story.

  • Participating in a Tour of Homes in Lake County, sponsored by the 200-member Building Industries Association (BIA). A BMP educational display was set up at the entrance of the Tour for the 10,000 attendees as well as the BIA members.

  • Conducting nine meetings with different local government departments. The meetings were attended by mayors, city/town planners, engineering departments, plan commissions, code compliance officers, developers, attorneys, builders, and sub-contractors. The attendees were informed of Indiana codes established to protect the Lake Michigan watershed. The goals of the meetings were to secure a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from each of 13 communities located in the watershed, educate them regarding nonpoint source pollution, and to continue BMP establishment and inspections.

  • Developing a partnership with the City of Gary, IDEM, and the Grand Calumet River Task Force to build the first parking lot sand filter in Indiana which prevents nonpoint source pollution from directly entering the adjacent lagoon. Fourth grade students "adopted" this filter and stenciled the following on the parking lot, "This sand filter can make a difference to stop water pollution." Two major newspapers covered this event. One of these two newspapers has an Environmental Editor with whom the project has developed a working relationship to get additional articles published. The local cable stations, which have a combined viewing area of 100,000, interviewed the 23 participants.

  • Organizing a group of neighborhood property owners who were adversely affected by a developer ignoring a watershed protection regulation. The group appeared before City Council and the Planning Commission, then took their concerns to the press. The Department of Natural Resources has followed through with letters, and meetings were scheduled with all those concerned. These issues have appeared on the front page of a major newspaper for six weeks drawing attention to builders' responsibility to the Lake Michigan watershed.

  • Conducting more than 70 meetings with city and town officials, such as mayors, planners, engineers, city attorneys, developers, and sub-contractors, to discuss the ditches, streams and lakes in their communities and how the treatment thereof affects the Lake Michigan watershed.

  • Producing a newsletter called Urban Run-off Matters which was distributed to more than 100 attendees at a Lake County Soil and Water Conservation annual meeting.
4th graders adopting storm drain

Partnerships with local newspapers and cable stations enabled coverage of sediment control activities which reached audiences of tens of thousands. Public education efforts resulted in increased community involvement in sediment control measures. Four Memoranda of Understanding have been concluded with local communities and three others are pending.

Contact: Brian Wietbrock, (219) 663-0238


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner