Grand Calumet River Lagoons Erosion Control Demonstration
NE Lake County,
Save the Dunes Conservation Fund
Basin Program Funds:
The Grand Calumet River Lagoons are the easternmost water body in the Grand Calumet Area of Concern (AOC). The lagoons are the headwaters of the Grand Calumet River, which drains into Lake Michigan via the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal. High sediment loads to the lagoons have been identified as a significant problem. At a particular site in Marquette Park, which borders the eastern basin of the lagoons, heavy foot and small boat traffic have created an erosion area. The result is uncontrolled runoff and sediment buildup in the lagoons. In addition to the onsite problems contributing to the impairment of the Grand Calumet River Lagoons, there is a need for developing public awareness for water quality issues associated with erosion and sedimentation.
The contributing drainage area to the lagoons – approximately 1,127 acres – consists primarily of sandy soils, including dunes and residential areas. An estimated 2,600 tons of sediment enter the eastern basin of the lagoons each year. Downstream from the lagoons, contaminated sediments are the subject of a Resource Conservation Recovery Act Consent Decree, which will involve dredging this section of the Grand Calumet River. It is essential that sediment control projects be implemented to avoid sediment buildup following restoration efforts.
This project’s goal was to remediate a specific erosion and sedimentation problem within a Lake Michigan Area of Concern and use the remediation effort and an educational program to elevate awareness of erosion and sedimentation problems regionally. It was important to foster the involvement and awareness of citizens before and during restoration efforts to ensure that the mistakes we have learned are not repeated.
The main activity was the construction of a deck as an erosion control structure at the Marquette Park site to enable continued and enhanced public access at the site. The plans included native landscaping to provide a vegetative buffer for control of runoff. A sign was included to educate visitors about the importance of water quality and erosion control. The program developed educational brochures on erosion, sedimentation and their water quality impacts in our region, and conducted in-class and field trip studies for high school students to learn about the importance of clean water and the negative impacts of soil erosion and sedimentation on water quality. These students, from Wirt High School in Gary, Ind., were then involved in the construction of the site facility.
The Save the Dunes Conservation Fund consulted with its partner organizations to obtain input on how the project progressed and suggestions for improvements. Each partner felt that the project was worthwhile and had been successfully implemented. Although the education partners were unable to participate in a second season with the Wirt High School students, both representatives were pleased with the program and their role in it.
The deck was installed. Half of the brochures were distributed to the Gary Park Department and the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District. Others have been distributed at various events. Fourth grade students planted native wildflowers and grasses around the deck. Maintenance activities included watering plants, weeding out invasive species, and cleaning up the site. The sign, made of embedded fiberglass to resist weather, wear and tear, was designed and installed. The initial plan called for a high school student project. This was not feasible due to scheduling conflicts with the partner organizations. Instead, the program was provided to fourth graders at another school system.
Contact: Sandra L. Wilmore, 219-879-3564
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