Every Hoosier can help reduce pollution and protect Indiana’s water quality. Individuals, state and local governments, farmers, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, marinas, public water systems, volunteer groups, and water quality professionals can work together to clean up and protect our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Whether you live in a big city, a small town, or in the country, you can get involved in one or more of these water protection activities. Together, we can all make a difference!
Implement Pollution Prevention Into Everyday Practices
IDEM offers pollution prevention training for businesses that utilizes the agency’s Pollution Prevention for Indiana Businesses manual.
Avoid Littering and Clean up a Shoreline or Streambank
- Pick up and properly dispose of litter at the beach and elsewhere.
- Participate in an Alliance for Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach cleanup event.
- Learn about protecting beaches in your community at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ACT: Protect Beaches In Your Community page.
Become a Clean Water Ambassador for Septic System Education (Lake, LaPorte, and Porter Counties)
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program (LMCP), in collaboration with Save the Dunes and the Septic System Coordination Work Group, is recruiting Clean Water Ambassadors to represent neighborhoods with high densities of residential septic systems in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties. Clean Water Ambassadors play an active role in the LMCP’s Good Neighbor: Neighborhood Ambassador Program, an education initiative intended to reduce septic-system failures and the resulting negative impacts on water quality in northwest Indiana. Ambassadors educate homeowners on how to properly care for and maintain their home septic systems.
Check Beach Water Quality Before Swimming
Safeguard your health and learn about beach water contamination and how to prevent it through the Indiana Beach Monitoring and Notification Program.
Join Local Watershed Protection Efforts
IDEM works alongside numerous locally-led watershed groups to help improve water quality. Learn about the successes of people and projects that are making a real difference in the quality of water across Indiana, and work with your local watershed group on planning and implementing your community’s watershed management plan.
Prevent Nonpoint Source Pollution
Nonpoint source pollution comes from oil, pet waste, pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, road salt, bacteria, sediment, and any other contaminant that ends up on the ground naturally or from human activity. Rainwater and snowmelt picks up these contaminants as it washes over yards, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and fields and deposits them into Indiana’s lakes and streams as nonpoint source pollution. Learn about nonpoint source pollution, and check out the Pathway to Water Quality at the Indiana State Fair when possible. Also take simple steps to prevent nonpoint source pollution:
- Keep oils, solvents, and other hazardous fluids covered and away from street and storm drains, and practice other ways to reduce or stop pollution.
- Follow the lawn care practices described in IDEM’s Smart Lawn Care. Safer Drinking Water. From the Grass to the Tap [PDF] brochure.
Monitor an Indiana Lake or Stream!
- The Indiana Clean Lakes Program is a comprehensive, statewide public lake management program administered through an IDEM Clean Water Act Section 319 grant to Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington. Staff and student citizens collect and analyze water samples from 75 to 80 Indiana lakes and reservoirs each year primarily during the months of July and August. The program also includes the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program on public and private waters. Volunteers are trained to collect water transparency data using a Secchi disk, and chlorophyll-a and total phosphorous water samples. The Volunteer Monitoring Program also includes an aquatic invasive species monitoring component.
- Hoosiers who want to get their feet wet (wearing boots or waders, of course), learn about water quality issues, and discover how to monitor and protect their local streams are invited to join IDEM’s Hoosier Riverwatch program.
Participate in IDEM Decision-Making
IDEM makes decisions about issuing permits, conducting cleanup actions, preparing environmental reports and plans, and writing environmental rules. The Citizens’ Guide to IDEM [PDF] describes the agency’s permitting and environmental cleanup programs. It explains the basic processes that occur once IDEM receives a permit application, becomes aware of a contaminated site, or is directed by law to develop a rule. The guide details how citizens can participate when IDEM makes decisions about issuing permits, conducting cleanup actions, preparing environmental reports and plans, and writing environmental rules.
Properly Dispose of Hazardous and Nonhazardous Wastes and Prevent Waste
- Bring old paints, cleaners, florescent lightbulbs, and other household hazardous waste to a local ToxDrop site. Also follow the guidance in the U.S. EPA’s Flush Responsibly [PDF] brochure.
- Drop off unwanted medicines at an unwanted medicine collection program.
- Safely dispose of household needles and sharps.
- Recycle used material and practice pollution prevention every day.
Protect Drinking Water Sources
Learn about the quality of your drinking water through Indiana Drinking Water Watch and take action to prevent contamination of Indiana’s drinking water sources. Consider joining a local planning team for your public water supply system’s wellhead protection area. Also check out U.S. EPA’s Source Water Protection site and Healthy Lawn Healthy Environment [PDF] brochure.
Protect Habitat and Avoid Spreading Invasive Species
- Seek Habitat and Wildlife Landowner Assistance when needed.
- Learn how to store habitat through the Pollinator Habitat Development and Enhancement Program.
- Avoid spreading invasive species.
Protect Lake Michigan’s Ecosystem
Hoosiers can help prevent pollution and protect Lake Michigan's ecosystem so present and future generations can enjoy Indiana’s unique coastline environment. Learn how to protect Lake Michigan’s ecosystem through water conservation, proper septic system maintenance, proper boat sewage disposal, and preventing fecal contamination from pets, wildlife, and dirty diapers.
Protect Private Wells
Protect private water wells from contamination by using best management practices.
Report Spills Immediately
Report any spills to soil or waters of the state to IDEM’s Emergency Response section as soon as possible. IDEM’s Emergency Response staff are available at any time to respond to incidents involving spills to soil or waters of the state.
Report Environmental Complaints
File a complaint about polluting activities or permit violations to IDEM’s complaint coordinator. IDEM is authorized to ensure compliance with the air, land, and water permits issued by the agency and address complaints about a variety of environmental concerns, including:
- Open dumping of trash or other debris
- Manure handling and storage by regulated farms
- Handling and storage of hazardous wastes
- Problems with drinking water systems and wastewater systems
- Storm water run-off from construction or industrial activities
- Activities in wetlands
Use Clean Boating Practices and Indiana Clean Marinas
Dispose of boat sewage in onshore sanitary facilities or at pumpout stations (see the Clean Boater Tip Sheets in Appendix K of the Indiana Clean Marina Guidebook) and use designated Indiana Clean Marinas.
Use Agricultural Best Management Practices and Prevent Nonpoint Source Pollution
- Use agricultural best management practices
- Follow Clean Water Act Section 319(h) agricultural guidance for Indiana
- Learn what others are doing about nonpoint source pollution
- Learn how to reduce or stop nonpoint source pollution
- Follow the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s Indiana State Nutrient Reduction Strategy
For Marina Owners and Operators
Join the Indiana Clean Marina Program
IDEM invites marina owners and operators to voluntarily participate in the Indiana Clean Marina Program, which was developed to protect Indiana’s inland and coastal waterways by reducing the potential environmental impacts associated with marinas and recreational boating.
For Public Water System Operators
Become a Hoosier Water Guardian
The Hoosier Water Guardian program recognizes community public water supplies that go above and beyond the minimum state standards for wellhead protection and source water protection. This voluntary initiative is for all community public water supplies that depend on groundwater for all or part of their drinking water. Becoming a Hoosier Water Guardian demonstrates that your community is one that values and cares about its water resources and the health of its citizens.