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How IDEM’s Regulatory Programs Protect and Restore Lake Michigan

IDEM administers a number of regulatory programs that work together to protect human health and the environment statewide. For instance, the Office of Water Quality administers monitoring, permitting, and compliance programs to protect all waters of the state, including Lake Michigan. IDEM’s Office of Land Quality oversees environmental cleanups statewide that help protect surface and water resources. Finally, the Office of Air Quality operates programs that control air emissions that can eventually wind up in the lake.

The Lakewide Action and Management Plan to Protect and Restore Lake Michigan

IDEM also implements a number of important non-regulatory programs that holistically support the protection and restoration of Lake Michigan and its ecosystem. Chief among these is the Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) Program. The goal of this program is to work with federal, state, and local partners to restore and protect the integrity of the entire Lake Michigan ecosystem. The LAMP tracks the status of the Lake Michigan ecosystem by answering 12 subgoal questions, such as:

  • Can we swim in the water?
  • Can we drink the water?
  • Are habitats healthy, naturally diverse, and sufficient to sustain viable biological communities?

Best management practices and programs are developed through the LAMP framework to prevent and address ecosystem concerns on a lakewide scale.

Other IDEM Lake Michigan Programs

Because of its comprehensive nature, many other IDEM programs fall under the LAMP framework and advance its goals and objectives. These include:

  • Lake Michigan Beach Monitoring and Notification Program:
    • This program supports beach monitoring and notifying the public about the water quality at beaches along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. IDEM and beach managers communicate the current water quality status at the beaches through:
  • Grand Calumet River/Indiana Harbor Ship Canal Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Program:
    • This program focuses on restoring the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Ship Harbor Canal and surrounding areas. IDEM and its partners address the environmental problems in the Area of Concern (AOC) by:
      • Removing, treating, or sealing contaminated river sediment
      • Removing or thinning invasive or nuisance plants and planting native species within state and locally-managed lands
      • Reducing the amount of problem nutrients and bacteria released into the river, canal, and Lake Michigan.
    • Restoration progress is measured by the removal of 14 beneficial use impairments (severe environmental problems) to the area. IDEM is working to develop and implement all the actions needed to do so by the end of 2024.
  • Indiana Clean Marina and Clean Boater Programs:
    • These voluntary pollution prevention programs guide marinas and educate recreational boaters on how to maintain a healthy Lake Michigan through best management practices (BMPs).
    • IDEM certifies Clean Marinas and recognizes them for their environmental stewardship efforts.

How You Can Help Protect and Restore Lake Michigan

Each of these programs addresses one or more of the challenges facing Lake Michigan, but more can be done. Learn how you can take steps to help protect Lake Michigan's ecosystem.

Beach Alerts

With the IDEM BeachAlert app you can receive notifications of beach advisories and closures via email or text.