With a $500,000 grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Delta Institute has partnered with the Michigan City Sanitary District and with the Alliance for the Great Lakes to design and install wetlands on Trail Creek to reduce stormwater runoff in Michigan City, Indiana.
“This project will do more than clean up storm water,” said Ethan Brown, Community Planning Manager at Alliance for the Great Lakes. “It will give Michigan City residents new recreational opportunities and protect the salmon and trout runs that are an important part of the city’s tourism industry. We commend Michigan City for being a Lake Michigan leader in planning projects with residents and stakeholders that combine benefits for the public, for local wildlife, and for Lake Michigan.”
With this grant, along with a Sustain Our Great Lakes grant to Michigan City Sanitary District, plus a funding match from the Sanitary District, the team will create approximately five acres of wetlands to reduce the urban pollution discharge to the Trail Creek Watershed from Cheney Run, which eventually reaches Lake Michigan.
The wetlands will improve water quality in Trail Creek and Lake Michigan, increase recreation opportunities, and improve habitat for animals and plants.
“We are excited about the measurable benefits that will result from this project for our City and our community’s water quality,” Said Sanitary District General Manager Michael Kuss. “The Cheney Run Treatment Area will allow us to continue to meet our goal of reducing pollution from urban stormwater runoff and to meet the recommendations of the Trail Creek Watershed Management Plan.”
When completed the project will benefit Trail Creek, Lake Michigan, and the quality of life of Michigan City residents by:
- Improving Trail Creek & Lake Michigan water quality – The wetland will help to manage an estimated 37.5 million gallons of storm water each year, reducing the amount of pollutants such as sediment, E. Coli, and nutrients, entering Trail Creek and Lake Michigan.
- Increasing recreation opportunities – New trails will be created as part of the project, connecting nearby neighborhoods and existing trails, and will include new fishing access point and a new kayak launch on Trail Creek.
- Improving critical coastal habitat – New high quality wetland habitat will help coastal Indiana’s animals and plants survive and thrive. In addition, improved water quality and habitat in Trail Creek is critical to protecting the City’s famous Salmon and Steelhead Trout runs.
The Michigan City Sanitary District, as the owner, is the responsible agency for the overall project and Delta will provide overall coordination of the project on behalf of the Sanitary District.
“A significant portion of Michigan City’s urban stormwater runs through the Cheney Run outfall into Trail Creek, carrying with it harmful pollution, and this project will reduce the impact of stormwater flow as well as improving the health of the watershed,” said Delta CEO Bill Schleizer. “We’re excited to partner with the Michigan City Sanitary District and Alliance for the Great Lakes on this important project.”
Alliance for the Great Lakes will lead the Maintenance Capacity Assessment aspect of the project and serve as the conveners throughout the project, identifying key stakeholders and soliciting public input throughout the green infrastructure design and implementation process.
Photo of sunset over Lake Michigan via Adobe Stock.