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Water Quality Monitoring Program
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) signed into law on October 10, 2000, amends the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), incorporating provisions intended to reduce the risk of illness to users of the Nation's recreational waters. The BEACH Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award program development and implementation grants to eligible States, Territories, Tribes, and local governments to support microbiological testing and monitoring of coastal recreation waters, including the Great Lakes, that are adjacent to beaches or similar points of access used by the public. BEACH Act grants also provide support for development and implementation of programs to notify the public of the potential exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in coastal recreation waters. EPA encourages coastal States and Territories to apply for BEACH Act Grants for Program Implementation (referred to as Implementation Grants) to implement effective and comprehensive coastal recreation water monitoring and public notification programs. CWA section 406(i) authorizes appropriations of up to $30 million per year to develop and implement beach programs. Unfortunately, only about one-third that amount has been authorized each year since the program's inception. In recent years, the total funding available for BEACH Act grants has been about $9.5 million. Funding beyond 2012 has been in jeopardy, since EPA's budget requests for this program in FY2013 and FY2014 were ZERO (money for testing in 2013 and 2014 was ultimately allocated as part of Continuing Resolutions to resolve the Federal Budget impasse) and there was also no money for beach testing in the FY2015 budget. Again, it was restored at the last minute as part of a Continuing Resolution. It is very discouraging to have to fight for this basic funding to protect the public's health at the beach every year. Thankfully, there is a growing movement to provide stable funding. Unfortunately, in 2017 the situation is even more dire. If available, funds are allocated to the states and territories based on a formula which uses three factors that are readily available and verifiable: (1) Length of beach season, (2) miles of beach and (3) number of people that use the beaches. Indiana was eligible for a $197,000 grant in fiscal year 2016. No state funds are used to support the program, but local jurisdictions sometimes support more monitoring than the program requires.
Portions of the following discussion are taken from NRDC's report Testing the Waters, A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, June 2014. NRDC's report evaluates beach monitoring data relative to EPA's recommended Beach Action Value (BAV). The BAV is a more protective threshold than the national allowable bacteria levels used in previous years to trigger beach advisories. The EPA considers the BAV to be a "conservative, precautionary tool for making beach notification decisions."
NRDC ranked Indiana 21st in Beachwater Quality (out of 30 states). 13% of samples exceeded EPA's new BAV standards for designated beach areas in 2013.
Indiana has beaches stretching along 45 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in three counties. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) administers the state's beach monitoring and notification program, which is voluntary for beaches that are not federally owned. The beaches participating in IDEM's Lake Michigan Beaches Monitoring and Notification Program post all advisories and closures on the IDEM BeachGuard website.
Water Quality Challenges and Improvements
Michigan City's Efforts to Improve Water Quality
The Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department has employed a variety of best management practices at Washington Park Beach and Sheridan Beaches, where water quality continued to improve in 2012 and 2013. Several of these strategies are aimed at reducing the number of birds at the beach—including prohibiting the feeding of wildlife, covering trash receptacles, and imposing fines for littering. The city also conducts a goose eradication program and revised its beach grooming techniques so that sand is left soft and furrowed instead of compacted and smooth (a condition that fosters bacteria). The Michigan City Parks Department also hosts "Adopt a Beach" cleanup events at Washington Park Beach and Sheridan Beaches twice a year.
Employing Predictive Models
With the future of BEACH Act funding unclear, IDEM plans to pursue low-cost alternatives to traditional E. coli monitoring, such as predictive modeling. In 2011, IDEM partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S) and Michigan City to develop a predictive model for Washington Park Beach, the only Tier 1 (high-priority) beach in LaPorte County. The model was developed using 2011 data and validated with 2012 beach data. IDEM planned to employ the new predictive model during the 2013 beach season.
New Efforts to Improve Water Quality at Jeorse Park Beach
Historically, Jeorse Park Beach in East Chicago has been Indiana's poorest-performing beach in regard to E. coli concentrations. Hydrodynamic modeling was planned for Jeorse Park Beach in 2013, the results of which will help determine alternatives for improving water quality. Additionally, East Chicago planned to increase its monitoring frequency to seven days a week during the 2013 beach season.
Generally the monitoring season in Indiana is from late May through the first week of September, but at some beaches sampling may begin or end a week earlier or later.
Sampling practices, locations, standards, and notification protocols are set by the state in consultation with the beach managers for the beaches receiving BEACH Act funding. Specific monitoring locations are used each year to ensure consistency and representativeness of data. Samples are taken in knee-deep water. Monitoring frequency is based on a prioritized ranking of beaches, with higher-priority beaches receiving more frequent sampling. The rankings are based on many variables, which include (but are not limited to) bather use, proximity to known point and non-point sources, and likely effects from heavy rainfall events. The eight Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beach sites (Kemil, Lake View, Mount Baldy, Dunbar, West, Central, Portage Lakefront, and Porter) are monitored weekly and voluntarily post monitoring and notification data to the Indiana BeachGuard website, even though they are not eligible for BEACH Act funding and are not included in the state program.
Some beaches are routinely sampled seven days a week, and their monitoring schedules do not change when they are closed or under advisory. At some of the beaches that are not sampled seven days a week, additional samples may be collected during a closing or advisory; at other beaches, the monitoring frequency is not changed.
Closings and Advisories
Standards and Procedures
Both closures and advisories are issued in Indiana. If any sample exceeds the 235 cfu/100 mL single-sample maximum, Indiana requires that either an advisory or a closure be issued; however, the decision on whether to post an advisory or to close the beach is left to the discretion of the individual beach manager. The only exception is Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where an advisory is always issued when monitoring results exceed 235 cfu/100 ml. No geometric mean standard is applied when making daily closure and advisory decisions. Swimmers are informed of poor water quality during advisories, and swimming is not permitted at beaches that are closed. The beaches participating in IDEM's Lake Michigan Beaches Monitoring and Notification Program post all advisories and closures on the IDEM BeachGuard website and post signs at the beach.
Beach managers may preemptively issue advisories or closures if conditions exist that may result in elevated E. coli levels, such as heavy rainfall or combined sewer overflow events. LaPorte County issues an advisory if excessive debris, such as oil globules or algae, is found in the lake or on the beach. Beach managers can also close a beach for weather and lake conditions, such as a rip current.
In March 2011 the Indiana Department of Environmental Management announced the launch of Indiana BeachesAlert, which monitors conditions and alerts at public and private beaches in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties. The new service supplements the existing online BeachGuard System, which compiles water quality data from mid-May through mid-September. The new tool can be accessed on a mobile device at Indiana BeachesAlert.
The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), in partnership with LimnoTech and the Great Lakes states, has developed a free smartphone application that provides convenient, public access to swim advisories and other environmental conditions information for more than 1,800 beaches in the Great Lakes region. Funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the myBeachCast application (app) retrieves locational and advisory data for Great Lakes and inland lake beaches in the eight Great Lakes states. The app also features real-time and forecasted weather and lake conditions (e.g., water temperature, wave heights, wind speed/direction) and nearshore marine forecasts, drawn from the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). myBeachCast allows users to discover local beaches based on the user’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions. To download myBeachCast, go to http://beachcast.glin.net.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), through its Great Lakes Beach Health Initiative, has been conducting research to advance the science of beach health in the Great Lakes for over a decade. The overall mission of this work is to provide science-based information and methods that will allow beach managers to more accurately make beach closure and advisory decisions, understand the sources and physical processes affecting beach contaminants, and understand how science-based information can be used to mitigate and restore beaches and protect the public. The work consists of four science elements—real-time assessments; pathogens and microbial source tracking; coastal processes; and data analysis, interpretation, and communication.
A multi-agency Advanced Monitoring Initiative project entitled Developing Water and Land Tools to Forecast Bacterial Exposure in Beach Settings was initiated in 2007 to develop, synthesize, compare, and promote tools that can provide early warnings about pathogen indicator levels. Led by researchers and tool developers from EPA, USGS, NOAA, state and local governments, and universities, this project integrates several approaches that link environmental observations to the forecasting of microbial exposure, including statistical, hydrodynamic/process-based, and non-point source pollution models.
National Ocean Service/National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) has carried out many water quality research projects in Indiana.
Water Quality Contact
Indiana Lake Michigan Beach Monitoring Program
IDEM Northwest Regional Office
In 2013, Indiana reported 33 Great Lakes beaches, 32 of which were monitored. Of all reported beach monitoring samples, 13% exceeded the Beach Action Value (BAV) of 190 E. coli bacteria colony forming units (cfu) per 100 ml freshwater in a single sample. NRDC considers all reported samples individually (without averaging) when calculating the percent exceedance rates in this analysis. This includes duplicate samples and reported samples taken outside the official beach season, if any.
The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the BAV in 2013 were Jeorse Park Beach I (52%), Jeorse Park Beach II (40%), Hammond Marina East Beach (30%), and Buffington Harbor Beach (29%), all in Lake County; and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—Portage Lakefront in Porter County (22%).
For a bar chart showing a 5-year water quality trend, see NRDC's report.
In June 2013, U.S. EPA released its latest data about beach closings and advisories for the 2012 swimming season. Note that for some states the data is incomplete, making state-to-state or year-to-year comparisons difficult. Here's EPA's BEACH Report for Indiana's 2012 Swimming Season. EPA no longer publishes this report.
Storm Drains and Sewage Outfalls
Sewage enters the waterway from combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants. Untreated storm water run-off from cities and rural areas can be another significant source of beach water pollution. In some areas, human waste from boats and malfunctioning septic systems can also contribute to beach water pollution.
Combined sewer systems are designed to carry both raw sewage and storm water runoff to wastewater treatment plants. During heavy rainstorms, these systems can become hydraulically overloaded and discharge a mixture of raw sewage and polluted run-off from streets into local waterways. The discharge pollutes water around the outfalls and at downstream beaches.
An example of this problem is chronic combined sewer overflows from the Gary Sanitary District into the Grand Calumet River, the Little Calumet River, and then into Lake Michigan. On January 31, 2011 CBS Chicago.com reported that over the preceding three years, the Gary Sanitary District had discharged at least 6.8 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage to those water bodies. The article states that the Gary Sanitary District discharged the following amounts of raw sewage combined with stormwater to the Little and Grand Calumet rivers, according to state records:
- 2010 (May through July): 186,882,000 gallons, 40 overflows over 20 days
- 2009: 1,297,600,000 gallons, 187 overflows over 60 days
In addition, here’s how much partially treated sewage Gary Sanitary District discharged into the Grand Calumet River during the past three years, according to state records:
- 2010: 1,891,924,200 gallons, 65 bypasses.
- 2009: 1,496,120,201 gallons, 130 bypasses.
- 2008: 2,022,398,000 gallons, 98 bypasses.
On-site sewage disposal systems are a contributing source of nonpoint pollution in many coastal areas, including Indiana’s Lake Michigan watershed. While septic systems do effectively treat contaminants, such as nutrients and pathogens, systems can fail for reasons that include poor soil conditions and inadequate maintenance. In 2007, the Indiana State Department of Health convened a committee of state and county health department staff members to determine what a statewide database should look like. With funding and support from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program, the state modeled its program on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Wastewater Information System Tool, streamlining and customizing the input screens and altering the flow of data to more accurately reflect county record-keeping. Coastal resource managers partnered with state health officials to develop a Web-based tool to track septic systems at the local level. The iTOSS (Indiana’s network for Tracking of Onsite Sewage Systems) tool creates a centralized database that county health officials can use to document septic system information, such as location, soil and system type, permit, and permit violations. State and county permit staffs can link permit violations and complaint data to a specific parcel, as well as attach site images and other supporting documentation. The tool can be used to develop and implement water quality improvement projects throughout the watershed. So far 12 counties have begun using the system, which was completed in 2010, including two of the three coastal counties bordering Lake Michigan. The coastal program is planning to use iTOSS data to assist local communities with refining watershed management plans and developing local ordinances addressing on-site sewage disposal systems.
More info on the Indiana State Department of Health's Onsite Sewage Systems Program.
Indiana Geological Survey's LakeRim Website shows National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program pipe locations. Extracted from the national EPA Permit Compliance System (PCS) database, this layer focuses on active state-regulated wastewater facility permit discharge points discharging into surface water bodies and for which locational information exists as UTM values. See here.
Also see Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. This website has links to a large number of factsheets and other documents covering topics such as rain gardens, low impact development, and clean marinas.
A series of articles in the Great Lakes Echo discuss stormwater and municipal wastewater issues throughout the Great Lakes that are impacting recreational water quality.
Water Quality Contact (Runoff and Outfalls)
Coastal Nonpoint Coordinator
Lake Michigan Coastal Program
1600 North 25 East
Chesterton, Indiana 46304
Phone: (219) 921-0863
Perception of Causes
The Inter-Agency Technical Task Force on E. Coli has been formed to cooperatively develop a strategy to eliminate the bacterial contamination of Indiana's beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The Task Force, beginning in February 1996, has evolved into an on-going collaboration among experts in federal, state, and local agencies. The Task Force continues to evolve as committees are established to focus on major categories of potential sources, and individuals and organizations are invited to continue to share their knowledge and experience in this process. The Task Force effectively serves as a method of communication among responsible and interested entities involved in the issue of water quality.
U.S. EPA and federal, state and local beach program partners developed standardized beach sanitary survey forms in 2007. These forms assist beach managers with a consistent approach to identify pollution sources, share information, and plan source remediation. The forms were successfully piloted by 61 Great Lakes beaches during the 2007 beach season, through EPA funding. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) Clean Beaches Initiative is focused on broadening the use of these standard sanitary survey forms throughout the Great Lakes region. Beach managers, cities, tribes, and citizen volunteers are encouraged to use the standard sanitary survey forms and take this first critical step towards ensuring clean and safe beaches.
Since 1909, U.S. Steel Corporation has operated an integrated steel mill facility in Gary, Indiana. The wastewater generated at the facility is treated prior to being discharged into Lake Michigan and the Grand Calumet River. The facility has been repeatedly charged with discharging polluted wastewater into these bodies of water, and in 1998 agreed to a $30 million settlement to clean up contaminated sediments from a five-mile (8 km) stretch of the river. The latest wastewater discharge permit was issued to U.S. Steel by Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in late January 2010. Permit documents are available on IDEM's Website.
An article published in the Great Lakes Echo on January 24, 2013 discussed water quality problems and sources of pollution in the Grand Calumet River in northwest Indiana. A follow-up article discussed specific actions that are being taken or are planned to reduce sources of industrial pollution and municipal sewage pollution affecting the Grand Calumet and Lake Michigan.
There are several informative water quality articles on DNR's website that were compiled in the mid-1990s.
Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act requires the state to assess and report on how well the waters of Indiana support the beneficial uses designated in Indiana’s water quality standards (PDF). Indiana’s Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report (IR) is developed every two years to fulfill this requirement and describes the condition of Indiana's lakes and streams, the Lake Michigan shoreline, and ground water. The IR is submitted to the U.S. EPA in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, the IDEM sends a copy of its Assessment Database to the U.S. EPA as an electronic update. Read more.
Great Lakes Restoration
In June 2009 President Obama appointed Cameron Davis, president of the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes, the first-ever Great Lakes “czar.” Mr. Davis coordinated federal programs on the lakes, including efforts to clean up contaminated sediments, reduce existing pollution sources and work to stop the spread of invasive species. The position was part of a $5 billion, 10-year restoration plan Obama released during his 2008 presidential campaign. Davis' official title is "Senior Advisor to the Administrator" Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Congress approved legislation in late October 2009 that included $475 million to restore the Great Lakes by combating invasive species, cleaning up highly polluted sites and expanding wetlands. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) includes:
- $146 million for cleaning up pollution in sediment in feeder rivers and harbors before it flows into the Lakes.
- $105 million to protect and restore habitat and wildlife.
- $97 million to stop "nonpoint" pollution, such as farm fertilizer and oil runoff, that closes beaches and leads to fish kills.
- $65 million to evaluate how the Lakes and wildlife are responding to cleanup efforts.
- $60 million for combating zebra mussels and other invasive species.
This initiative will use outcome-oriented performance goals and measures to target the most significant problems and track progress in addressing them. EPA and its Federal partners will coordinate State, tribal, local, and industry actions to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. The Initiative builds upon 5 years of work of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (IATF) and stakeholders, guided by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. The IATF included 11 cabinet and agency organizations, including: EPA, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Departments of State, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Homeland Security, Army, and Health and Human Services.
The IATF developed a Plan for the $475 million budget, including over $250 million in grants and project agreements aimed at achieving the long term goals: safely eating the fish and swimming at our beaches, assuring safe drinking water, and providing a healthy ecosystem for fish and wildlife. A companion Agency Actions document describes proposed accomplishments for each Agency pursuant to the Initiative.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative website provides additional information on the progress of this initiative, including the award of grants for specific projects.
The FY2010-FY2014 Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan was released on February 21, 2010. This Plan provides information about how the GLRI will address specific high profile, basin-wide issues (for example, aquatic invasive species) as well as critical but more localized issues (for example, contaminated sediments). EPA and the IATF used this plan to guide the overall direction and focus of GLRI and laid out the goals, objectives, measures, and actions to help track federal efforts from fiscal year 2010 through 2014. Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan II for FY2015-2019 was released in September 2014 and builds upon the work of the first GLRI Action Plan. More information on the action plan can be found here.
The report State of the Great Lakes 2016 contains discussions on each of the Great Lakes and the current and planned restoration projects.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums. Their member organizations represent millions of people who share a common goal of restoring and protecting North America’s greatest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes. The coalition reflects a growing public awareness of the urgent need to restore the health of the Great Lakes, which are essential to the economic and cultural identity of our region. The coalition’s mission is to secure a sustainable Great Lakes restoration plan and the funding needed to implement it. The coalition seeks to:
- stop sewage contamination that closes beaches and harms recreational opportunities;
- clean up toxic sediments that threaten the health of people and wildlife;
- prevent polluted runoff from cities and farms that harm water quality;
- restore and protect high quality wetlands and wildlife habitat that filter pollutants, provide a home for fish and wildlife, and support the region’s outdoor recreation economy;
- prevent the introduction of invasive species, such as Asian carp, that threaten the economy and quality of life for millions of people.
In March 2017 the Trump administration proposed a 97% cut in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Cladophora Algae and Harmful Algal Blooms
Excessive growth of the filamentous green alga, Cladophora sp., was one of the most obvious symptoms of eutrophication in the Great Lakes between the 1950s and 1970s. During the latter part of this period, a large amount of research was conducted to determine the causes of excessive Cladophora growth. While various factors, including nitrogen, phosphorus, temperature and irradiance were found to influence Cladophora growth, phosphorus appeared to be the key factor responsible for excessive growth, and phosphorus abatement was seen as the most effective method of solving the problem. This approach appeared to be validated by the decline in the abundance of Cladophora and other algae in the 1980s following the removal of phosphorus from detergents, improved phosphorus removal by sewage treatment plants, and changes in agricultural practices designed to reduce phosphorus runoff from land – actions that resulted from a 1983 amendment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
In the past five to ten years, excessive Cladophora growth has re-emerged as a management problem in parts of the Great Lakes. This has resulted in public complaint, generally related to the decline in aesthetic conditions near the lakeshore. Other negative impacts include human health hazards (e.g. Cladophora mats may promote the growth or retention of pathogens), the clogging of water intakes (including those of power plants), the loss of recreation opportunities, and declining lakefront property values. In addition to direct impacts on humans, excessive Cladophora growth may have significant impacts on ecosystem functions and properties such as nutrient cycling, energy flow and food web structure. More info.
A June 2006 report Something’s Amuck, Algae Blooms Return to Michigan Shores by the the Michigan Environmental Council has more on this problem and what can be done to solve it.
A presentation by Michael Evanoff of Michigan DNR Bay City State Recreation Area, Muck Management Uncensored examines the history of "muck management" at this location.
An article Green Disposal of a Green Menace was published in the Great Lakes Echo on July 30, 2013. This article discusses options for disposal of Cladophora algae, including composting and possibly using it in the production of biofuels.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Michigan Sea Grant have produced a brochure The Beach Manager's Manual - Harmful Algal Blooms.
The NOAA Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health (CEGLHH) is hosting a series of Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Stakeholder Workshops in Great Lakes states. The purpose of these workshops is to bring together public health, water, beach/natural resource managers, and tribes to discuss and assess the HAB issue in the state. For additional information on these Workshops, please see: http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/Centers/HumanHealth/
In February 2008, the Alliance for the Great Lakes issued a press release criticizing the state's draft 2008 305(b) report of impaired waters for failing to document a dramatic increase in algae blooms in Saginaw Bay and along Western Lake Erie.
There are a number of invasive plant and animal species that inhabit the Great Lakes and disrupt the ecological balance of aquatic life. Two such species are the spiny water flea and zebra mussels. More info on invasive species is available here and here.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) participates in various outreach events throughout the year including school presentations, Earth Day events, and other environmentally focused events. During these events, the public is informed about things they can do to protect beachwater quality, such as picking up trash and refraining from feeding gulls. The importance of watching for posted water quality advisories and good beach hygiene practices, such as washing hands before eating after water contact are also explained.
Indiana's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program provides information on rain gardens, their grant program, the 2005 program document, and various fact sheet and reports, including Protecting Indiana's Coastal Waters.
The Indiana Clean Marina Program was developed in an effort to protect the state’s inland and coastal waterways by reducing the potential environmental impacts associated with marinas and recreational boating. The Indiana Clean Marina Program provides information, technical assistance and guidance to marinas and recreational boaters. By participating in this voluntary program, marinas, boatyards, yacht clubs, and recreational boaters will be recognized for their environmental stewardship.
The Indiana Clean Marina Program is a collaborative effort by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, marinas and recreational boaters. Development of the Indiana Clean Marina Program was made possible with financial assistance awarded to the Lake Michigan Coastal Program by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under a Section 310 grant.
The Indiana Clean Marina Program is currently being piloted in the Lake Michigan Coastal Program area. With demonstrated success, they hope to take the program statewide in the near future. For more information about Indiana’s Clean Marina Program, please contact Joe Exl.
Indiana Coast Week is a good example of one of LMCP’s coordinated education and outreach projects. Since 2003, LMCP has convened an annual Coast Week planning group of state, local, federal and nonprofit partners. Additionally, the local business community has supported and participated in Coast Week. In 2005, the Coast Week planning process involved several new participants. For example, the City of Gary hosted a Clean Water Fair as part of the Marquette Park Lagoons Coastal Grant Project and provided space for partners to share information about clean water efforts. Additionally, Michigan City and a variety of partners hosted an “edutainment” event for area school children.
In addition to LMCP’s overarching sponsorship and coordination role in Coast Week, the program also engages in project-specific education and outreach efforts in conjunction with the week’s festivities. In 2005, LMCP funded “Diving into Indiana’s Maritime History.” The “live dive” featured a two-way video and audio link for students and divers in Lake Michigan. More than 150 students from seven different schools learned about Lake Michigan’s maritime history through the event. LMCP and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District co-sponsored the “South Shore Coast Week Special.” The transportation district donated use of a two-car train for the event, and LMCP arranged for interpretive presentations on topics ranging from history of the national lakeshore to regional planning. LMCP and its partners also: (1) purchased and distributed 2,500 Coast Week decals; (2) printed and distributed more than 250 Coast Week posters with a calendar of events; and (3) designed and maintained a Coast Week website.
LMCP commissioned a new educational poster that presents information on the coastal region’s top ten ecosystems. LMCP and DNR staff worked closely with a local artist to develop the poster’s theme and associated information. LMCP held a formal poster release ceremony at Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center in January 2006. The program is also planning to commission a poster featuring the ecosystems of Lake Michigan.
In 2006, LMCP launched a public design contest for a “Welcome to the Lake Michigan Basin” highway sign. The sign will be posted at 28 locations throughout the coastal region where major roadways intersect the Lake Michigan drainage basin. The project is intended to raise public awareness of the extent of the drainage area as well as of the importance of Lake Michigan. LMCP, the CAB and DNR voted to select a group of finalists from the 43 entries received. The finalists were posted on the LMCP website for an open public vote to determine the contest winner. LMCP unveiled the new sign as part of Coast Week 2006.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly Lake Michigan Federation) has a publication A Prescription for Healthy Beaches - Helping You Help Your Beach.
Plastics and other litter, abandoned vessels, and derelict fishing gear have been a long-standing problem for the Great Lakes. In order to begin to address this problem, the Great Lakes community worked together to produce the Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan. The action plan provides scientists, governments, stakeholders, and decision makers a road map for strategic progress to see that the Great Lakes, its coasts, people, and wildlife are free from the impacts of marine debris. It centers around a mission to combat debris through an increased understanding of the problem, preventative actions, reductions in impacts, education and outreach, and collaborative efforts from diverse groups.
An article Surfing and Saving Lake Michigan was written by Ingrid Lindfors, co-founder of the Lake Michigan chapter of Surfrider Foundation.
The LakeRim GIS website can be used as the foundation for a comprehensive analysis of the region's water-quality problems. The Website serves as a repository for geographic information system data for the Indiana counties adjacent to Lake Michigan. The site includes the interactive LakeRim map and provides links to resources developed to support remediation efforts underway by local, state, and federal agencies.
The southern Lake Michigan region is a unique place that encompasses urban, industrial, residential, agricultural, and natural settings. There are a number of pressures and concerns in this region that are addressed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG).
In the face of growing populations and limited resources, four regional planning agencies in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin (with support from IISG) have committed to work together to manage environmental, economic, and transportation concerns for the future. The Wingspread Tri-State Regional Accord covers 17 counties, nearly 8,000 square miles, and more than 1,500 government entities in the southern Lake Michigan region. This has led to the Tri-State Water Consortium, which will plan for a sustainable, high quality water supply for future generations in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.
IISG has created several publications to direct fish consumption advisory information to critical populations in urban centers. Contaminants in Fish and Seafood, written for women who are pregnant, who plan to be pregnant, or who have babies or young children, explains the potential health impacts on babies and children from eating even small amounts of mercury or PCB-contaminated fish. The ABCs of PCBs, was written in four languages--English, Spanish, Polish, and Korean--to reach a number of underserved audiences with information about PCBs in fish and their connection to human health.
IISG and Michigan Sea Grant have produced a brochure The Beach Manager's Manual - Harmful Algal Blooms.
Through the U. S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) in partnership with IISG, legislators and agency managers in all Great Lakes states and Canada now have access to the latest science-based Great Lakes monitoring information on which to base policy and management decisions. IISG’s Great Lakes ecosystem extension specialist in the GLNPO office has provided a critical link between research and outreach at the agency.
The Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health (CEGLHH) focuses on understanding the inter-relationships between the Great Lakes ecosystem, water quality and human health. The Center employs a multidisciplinary approach to understand and forecast coastal-related human health impacts for natural resource and public policy decision-making, and develop tools to reduce human health risks associated with three research priority areas: beach closures, harmful algal blooms, and drinking water quality.
The International Joint Commission (U.S. and Canada) has a Beaches and Recreational Water Quality Workgroup that has developed a Beaches Fact Sheet and several other documents evaluating sources of recreational water quality contamination and reviewing best management practices.
General Reference Documents and Websites
EPA has compiled several NPS (Nonpoint Source) Outreach Products that are a selection of television, radio, and print products on nonpoint source pollution that have been developed by various agencies and organizations around the country. They are good examples of outreach in the mass media. Also see What You Can Do.
NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, International City/County Management Association and Rhode Island Sea Grant, has released an interagency guide that adapts smart growth principles to the unique needs of coastal and waterfront communities. Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities builds on existing smart growth principles to offer 10 coastal and waterfront-specific guidelines that help manage development while balancing environmental, economic, and quality of life issues.
|State of the Beach Report: Indiana|
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