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The purpose of the Northwest Indiana Regional Watershed Plan is to develop a framework for water quality improvements and planning within Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s (NIRPC) planning area. The water quality problems and issues facing this region are sometimes complicated and need to be addressed in a holistic manner. Water quality problems can be linked to how the region has developed over the last century.
Located on approximately 45 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan, Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties encompass approximately 1,513 square miles. Within this area there are two large watersheds partially lying within the three counties. The Little Calumet-Galien Basin lies in the northern portion of the counties along Lake Michigan, and the Kankakee River Basin lies to the south. NIRPC is planning for these two large water basins because they are the two which are of truly regional scale in northwest Indiana, crossing all three of the counties comprising NIRPC’s planning jurisdiction.
NIRPC undertook this plan that focuses on the two watersheds rather than on the artificial political boundaries that have been the focus of water quality planning in the past. By focusing on watersheds, this water quality planning initiative recognizes that any pollution that is discharged within a watershed will eventually flow downhill with the potential to impair the waterway, unless properly managed or naturally attenuated. Also, communities throughout Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties have started to develop watershed plans and/or implementation projects that will improve water quality within that subwatershed. Smaller subwatersheds within these larger basins can be better planned for and managed by the individual counties or their municipalities.
This plan is an early example of the watershed planning process. More work may be needed to provide for a comprehensive implementation plan for the Northwest Indiana Regional sub-watersheds, however, there is significant information from which to draft the details with any available new data incorporated.