The United States Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue further regulations to identify and regulate additional stormwater discharges that were considered to be contributing to national water quality impairments. On December 8, 1999, the EPA issued regulations that expanded the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program to include discharges from small MS4s in “urbanized areas” serving populations of less than 100,000 and stormwater discharges from construction activities that disturb more than one acre of land. These regulations are referred to as the NPDES Phase II Storm Water Program. The unincorporated area of Lake County generally met these criteria and was consequently designated as an MS4 entity. In the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is responsible for the development and oversight of the NPDES Phase II Program.
IDEM initiated adoption of the Phase II Rules which were codified as Rule 13 became effective on August 6, 2003 and requires designated MS4 entities to apply for permit coverage by submitting a Notice of Intent (NOI) and developing Storm Water Quality Management Plans (SWQMPs) through a phased submittal process. The IDEM’s phased submittal requirements includes the implementation of a Stormwater Quality Management Plan which was approved on March 1, 2005.
- Planning & Copnservation Development
- Public Health & Pollution Prevention
- Local Regulations, Procedures & Inspections
- Education & Outreach
- natural Resource Preservation/Land Acquistion
- Frederal & State Compliance?Reporting
- BMP Maintenance, Improvement & Instilation
Lake County has implemented a Clean Water Program that entails a variety of strategies to improve water quality for our residents and environment in unincorporated areas. Various departments, organizations and agencies are involved with efforts to establish practices to treat stormwater within our watersheds, much of which drains into lakes, rivers and streams.
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is essentially a drainage area or basin where stormwater flows into. These areas are within the confines of a drainage divide (see map). Our activities on the land impacts the quality and hydrology of our water. Pervious surfaces (mostly vegetated areas) allow some infiltration of water into the ground. Water flowing over impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, rooftops) collect and transport pollutants from the surfaces into receiving waters.
With increased commercial & residential development in the area, it’s important to assess whether construction is located in an area subject to flooding (identified on FEMA floodway maps. Contact the local zoning administrator (219) 374-7400 prior to any construction in a suspected floodway. IDNR Division of Water Construction in a floodway permits are available online or by calling (317) 232-4160.
The quality of water Lake County is essential for all residents in our watersheds for health, recreation, and property value. If you see any suspicious discharge of pollutants into an open channel, inlet or ditch please report it immediately by contacting Sheriff's Department Dispatch at (219) 755-3333. Take photos if possible to provide additional evidence for local investigation and document releated information. to repoart a pollution issue to the state call IDEM's 24 hour hotline at 1-888-233-7745
In the News
State regulators give sparkling grades to Chesterton, Lake County, Portage, the town of Porter and two Porter County conservation districts for their effort to comply with new, stringent Clean Water Act regulations. The state is requiring county and municipal governments...read more
Lake County's water quality plan is getting kudos from the state. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Rule 13 Permit evaluation, part of the federally mandated MS4 stormwater plan...read more
Lake County MS4 General Documents
|SW Permit Application|
|Storm Water Fees|
|SW Technical Standards Manual|
|Part A - NOI|
|Part B - Baseline Characterization|
|Part C - Storm Water Quality Management Plan|
Control Measure Categories
Storm Drains & Sanitary Sewers (What's the difference?)
Sanitary sewers receive wastewater from indoor plumbing fixtures such as bathroom sinks, mop sinks, floor drains, washing machines and toilets. The treatment process removes solids and organic materials, the water is filtered and a disinfectant is added to destroy bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. After treatment, the water is released into the environment.
Storm drains receive rainfall runoff after storm. Water that goes down a storm drain is left untreated and eventually ends up in ditches, lakes, rivers and streams. Substances such as detergents, cleaners and grease are harmful to aquatic ecosystems, wildlife and human health. Storm drains are found outdoors, such as on streets, near sidewalks and in parking lots. Think of these drains as rivers beneath your feet! So protect your storm drains by preventing any harmful materials from entering into them and report suspected polluters. The drainage conveyance system is currently being mapped in ArcGIS and will be available online as sections are completed.
The watersheds within Lake County contain wetlands that serve a variety of benefits including stormwater filtration, flood control and habitat for wildlife. Some of these wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and IDEM. Prior to any potential disturbance to a suspected wetland contact USACOE at (574) 232-1952 for permitting requirements. Wetland identification must be field verified and delineated by a qualified professional. Unauthorized disturbance could result in substantial fines$$$
USACOE/EPA: Section 404 Clean Water Act to regulate dredging or filling in a water body/wetland
IDEM: Section 401 clean Water Act Indiana Pollution Control Law to regulate dredging or filling in a water body/wetland
IDNR: Indiana Flood Control Act to regulate construction in a floodway
Water Quality Data
Monitoring the conveyances by periodically testing the water provides important information that can be utilized to assess health risks associated with the lake water. This also may provide a method of early detection as a result of changes impacting the Lake that need to be addressed. Below is data provided by the Lake County Health Department. Figures in EPA water quality standards
Legal (Regulated) Drains
Many open channels (ditches/streams/creeks) within Lake County are designated as legal drains. These conveyances have been identified as significant drainage to minimize flooding. The County has jurisdiction over the maintenance of these areas to ensure positive drainage. The County Surveyor’s Office with the County Drainage Board regulates impacts of drainage within the channel and 75’ adjacent from top of bank edge.
Currently, more than 60% of water pollution comes from sediment, vehicle fluids, fertilizers and failing septic tanks. A majority of these sources are not from industry, but from all of us who all play a small but cumulative role in water quality. Making small changes in our activities can collectively make a big impact to the quality of lakes, rivers and streams in our area.
Here are a few tips about fertilizers:
- use fertilizers sparingly (fertilizers contribute to algae growth leading to decreased available oxygen that fish need)
- don’t fertilize before a rain storm
- properly dispose of unwanted fertiizers
- consider using organic fertilizers
- mix compost with soil to minimize use of chemical fertilizers
- for additional advice on fertilizers contact :Purdue University Cooperative Extension—Master Gardeners: (219) 775-3240
Mapping Reference Department
Keeps and perpetuates a section corner record book showing original government section corners. Checks and references yearly at least 5% of all corners shown in the record book and establishes, locates and references at least 5% of all original government section corners. This serves to create and maintain an accurate framework that all other land based government information is based on.
Manages the maintenance construction and reconstruction of all County Regulated (Legal) Drains in conjunction with the Lake County Drainage Board & Advisory Committee. Click here to find out what the Surveyor's Office is doing to coordinate area wide and county wide stormwater management efforts.
MS4 Stormwater Quality
According to U.S. EPA, polluted storm water runoff is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water bodies. Click_here to find out how Lake County is combating this problem in the unincorporated areas and what you can do to help.
Geographic Information Services
It is estimated that more than eighty percent of governmental functions are associated with managing information about specific locations or geographic areas. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system for the input, editing, storage, maintenance, management, retrieval, analysis, and output of geographically referenced information. GIS supports applications such as stormwater maintenance projects, land planning, Homeland Security,law enforcement, property appraisal, civil engineering, natural resource monitoring, transportation planning, public health and environmental analysis, economic development, census analysis, and much more.
To find out more infomation about Lake County Goverment Center's Rain Garden click here for an informational brochure
LCSO Single Lot Construction Flyer
A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWPPP, is more than simply the construction site’s sediment and erosion control plan. The SWPPP is a requirement of the Clean Water Act and State and localstormwaterregulations.
Did You Know
The primary cause of water pollution throughout the United states today is contaminated stormwater runoff.
George Van Til
Lake County Surveyor