The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission announced today that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has selected the four-year project proposal for funding for the Deep River-Portage Burns Waterway Watershed Initiative. The Deep River-Portage Burns Waterway watershed covers nearly 180 square miles and is the largest watershed in Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan drainage area. NIRPC reports IDEM has identified approximately 125 miles of stream in the watershed that are considered impaired, with some of the known water quality issues being E. coli, siltation, low dissolved oxygen levels, and impaired biotic communities, which they report as being by far the most prevalent issue. IDEM is currently assessing water chemistry, habitat and biological communities at 35 different sites strategically located throughout the watershed and the information gathered will be used to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load report which will be incorporated into the watershed management plan.
IDEM has created a webpage for Deep River-Portage Burns Waterway TMDL study to help disseminate information such as public meeting dates, quarterly water quality data results, and site photographs (http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/3893.htm). The next TMDL public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 5th beginning at 1p.m. at the Lake County Extension and Soil & Water Conservation District offices in Merrillville. The watershed management project is expected to begin this January with a public meeting kick-off which NIRPC will announce as the project start nears closer. NIRPC hopes to draw in other partners as the initiative moves forward.