The diversity of work being done in Indiana to reduce nonpoint source pollution reflects the wide range of agricultural, rural, and urban nonpoint source pollution issues facing the state. Nonpoint source pollution reduction is a priority for several state agencies, as well as numerous smaller public and private groups. These groups include lake associations, environmental groups, hunting and wildlife organizations, groups led by a soil and water conservation district or other form of local government, organizations working to improve nonpoint source policy and state-wide resources, permanent watershed groups, and other less permanent watershed groups that exist when grants are available.
IDEM has the primary responsibility in Indiana of reducing nonpoint source pollution. The focus of this effort is through two non-regulatory programs: Section 319(h) grants and Section 205(j) grants. Public entities like cities, universities, and non-profit organizations are eligible for these grants, which focus on watershed planning, best management practice (BMP) implementation, and state-wide projects. Since 1990, the Section 319 program has awarded over $46 million in grants. Since 2000, the program has documented reductions of over 144,000 tons of sediment, 286,000 pounds of phosphorus and 478,000 pounds of nitrogen.
IDEM and our many partners are working together on a watershed by watershed basis to improve and protect our water resources. The prevention of nonpoint source pollution requires the cooperation of many groups and agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as well as all citizens living in the watershed. We cannot accomplish the goal of clean water without the help of many people working together. Listed below is information on our partners and their nonpoint source work:
Locally-led Watershed Groups
There are numerous groups across Indiana, working in watersheds with businesses, agriculture, environmental groups, conservation groups, and individuals to improve water quality. Many of these groups are funded through grants from IDEM and other funds from partner agencies listed below. Read more about the projects funded through these grants and the groups working on the local level to improve water quality.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
IDNR administers the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Program. The legislation that established the LARE program in IDNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife charges the Department with the responsibility to "Administer a lake and river enhancement program to do the following: (A) Control sediment and associated nutrient inflow into lakes and rivers, and (B) Accomplish actions that will forestall or reverse the impact of that inflow and enhance the continued use of Indiana's lakes and rivers."
LARE funds come from user fees collected by IDNR. The program overlaps with many of IDEM’s goals, funding both lake and watershed management plans as well as the implementation of BMPs.
IDNR also administers the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program (LMCP). The purpose of the LMCP is to enhance the state's role in planning for and managing natural and cultural resources in the coastal region and to support partnerships between federal, state and local agencies and organizations. IDNR is the lead agency implementing the LMCP.
The LMCP passes through approximately $650,000 annually through the Coastal Grants Program for projects to protect and restore natural, cultural, and historic resources in Indiana's Lake Michigan coastal region. Project categories include land acquisition (ex. riparian corridors), low cost construction (ex. natural area restoration), education and outreach, and planning/coordination/management (ex. land use planning and ordinances).
Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA)
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil Conservation (ISDA-DSC) focuses on enhancing the stewardship of natural resources on agricultural land, and strengthening the capacity of local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to ensure that constituents have a local resource for conservation assistance. In addition, ISDA-DSC provides conservation technical assistance to implement federal, state, and local conservation projects.
The Division of Soil Conservation employs Resource Specialists to assist directly landowners with the planning and implementation of conservation practices addressing specific soil and water resource concerns. Resource Specialists work in regional Conservation Implementation Teams (CIT) alongside staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD). The ISDA Resource Specialists assist with the planning, survey, design, and construction of thousands of practices annually. The common practices that these professionals work on include but are not limited to - filter strips, grassed waterways, forested and grassed buffers, water and sediment control basins, wetland restorations, and livestock watering systems.
The Division also employs District Support Specialists to work directly with the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to develop conservation priorities, goals, and plans for their respective territories. The District Support Specialists prepare and conduct trainings for SWCD supervisors and staff. They are also a resource for SWCDs in carrying out their legal and operational responsibilities.
ISDA also sponsors the Clean Water Indiana grant.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
NRCS provides high quality technical assistance, conservation planning, and program information support to private land users managing Indiana's natural resources. The NRCS mission statement is “Helping People Help the Land.” Through financial and technical assistance, NRCS works toward a landscape with productive agriculture and a high-quality environment. The guiding principles of NRCS work are service, partnership, and technical excellence. NRCS’ primary customers are people who make decisions about natural resource use and management on non-federal land. This includes governments with a responsibility for natural resource use and management.
NRCS assists landowners in Indiana to develop conservation plans and provides technical assistance and advice about natural resource management. NRCS helps install practices and systems that meet technical standards and specifications. NRCS also provides financial assistance through incentive programs, easement programs, grants, and stewardship payments. NRCS’ standards and specifications are utilized for many of the cost-share practices implemented through 319 grants. NRCS Farm Bill conservation programs are utilized as one funding source for implementing local watershed management plans.
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD)
The mission of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) is to represent Soil and Water Conservation Districts as one voice, and to assist the leadership of local SWCDs through coordination and education for the wise use and management of our natural resources. One of the many ways the IASWCD promotes the wise use of Indiana’s natural resources is by providing information and outreach in support of statewide efforts to develop and enhance Indiana’s watershed program and help address NPS pollution. Section 319 funds are used to staff a Conservation Development Specialist position at the IASWCD that serves as a liaison with IDEM Office of Water Quality staff to help promote watershed management efforts throughout the state. Numerous Soil and Water Districts in counties across Indiana are leading watershed groups in planning and implementing on-the-ground solutions to nonpoint source pollution.
Indiana State Revolving Fund Program
The Indiana State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Program finances projects that abate or prevent nonpoint source pollution of Indiana's waters. The SRF Program has traditionally provided low interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The program has been expanded to fund projects that meet the objectives in the Indiana Nonpoint Source Management Plan. The money loaned to these nonpoint source projects is also documented as match, when applicable, for the state Section 319 Grant Program. Eligible nonpoint source projects must provide water quality benefits to their respective communities and may include one or more of the following:
- Wetland restoration/protection;
- Erosion control measures;
- Ground water remediation;
- Failing septic system repair, replacement, or connection to sewer;
- Storm water BMPs;
- Source water and wellhead protection;
- Conservation easements; and,
- Agricultural and waste management BMPs.
Purdue University’s many researchers have produced several valuable resources for Indiana’s watershed groups:
- The Indiana Water Monitoring Inventory is a central hub for water monitoring locations of Indiana streams, lakes and ground water.
- Every year, the Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy educates watershed coordinators, teachers, volunteers, engineers, district staff, non-profit organizations, and others to lead watershed efforts that improve water quality in Indiana.
- The goal of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute is to develop leaders within the natural resources communities who can work collaboratively with others, build consensus and find sustainable solutions to complex environmental issues.
- Indiana HUC Finder allows you to easily locate and identify watershed hydrologic cataloging units (HUCs) and watershed group activity.
The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University has been working with IDEM through a Section 319 grant to administer the Indiana Clean Lakes Program (CLP) since 1989. The Indiana CLP is a comprehensive, statewide public lake management program that includes public information and education, technical assistance, volunteer lake monitoring, and lake water quality assessment.
Indiana’s CLP, coordinated by IU-SPEA staff and students, includes the following components:
- Annual sampling of lakes and reservoirs;
- Training and support of a corps of volunteer lake monitors;
- Education and outreach through the production and distribution of the quarterly newsletter, Water Column; maintenance of a website; preparation of brochures and fact sheets; and participation in the annual Indiana Lake Management Conference; and,
- Providing technical assistance and expertise on lake-related issues within the state and elsewhere.