The adaptation strategies below offer possible ways to address anticipated climate risks to lakes, rivers, and streams.
Adaptation strategies for lakes, rivers, and streams
- The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) develops Indiana’s 303(d) List of Impaired Waters (the “303(d) list”) as part of the state's Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report (IR), which is submitted to the USEPA every two years in accordance with the Clean Water Act (CWA). Local governments can support the removal of stream segments from the 303(d) list by identifying and contributing to restoration and protection initiatives and plans. Other states will have a 303(d) list, which can be found under the appropriate agency or from the USEPA's water quality assessment information.
- Build a combined sewer overflow tunnel to receive and store the overflow from a combined sewer system during heavy precipitation events.
- Develop adaptive stormwater management practices to prevent contaminants from entering the water system (e.g. Green stormwater infrastructure designed to catch and manage stormwater on-site – where it falls, street cleanings to clear storm drains, and more). See examples of stormwater management practices from the USEPA.
- Develop a watershed-wide approach to water quality management with neighboring jurisdictions.
- Identify and map the community's green spaces, which function to protect water quality. Green spaces can include public and private parks and forests, green infrastructure (e.g., rain gardens and bioswales), undeveloped green spaces, and urban gardens. Look for areas where greenery could be planted and makes plans to plant it. Pay attention to the diversity, composition, connectivity, and equitable distribution of green spaces across the community.
- Implement an educational campaign for farmers and landowners to promote the responsible use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
- Offer community education on the correct application of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Include information on preventing polluted runoff by maintaining rainwater on properties via native plants’ deeper root system and other water-retention mechanisms.
- Work through local lawn-care companies, partner groups, and include specific outreach to farmer networks.
- Maintain, restore, and protect wetlands. Healthy wetlands support exceptionally robust ecosystems that protect and improve water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitats, store floodwaters, and maintain surface water flow during dry periods. Taking steps to understand your community’s existing wetlands and expand or improve their functionality provides multiple community benefits.
- Adopt protections of important zones (e.g., riverbanks, lakeshores) and critical habitats. Note that the locations of these areas change with the seasons, and as the climate changes.
- Remove barriers to migration and ecosystem diversity, such as dams, to allow species to survive and reproduce.
- Restore riverbanks and floodplains to help reduce erosion and buffer extreme flooding while creating seasonal habitat for wetland creatures.
- Reconnect wetlands and freshwater estuaries to restore water movement, improve filtration, and provide shelter and food for aquatic organisms.
- Plant submerged aquatic vegetation to stabilize sediment, reduce erosion, absorb excess nutrients, and offer food and shelter to wildlife and aquatic organisms.
- Use natural breakwaters on the coasts of lakes to reduce erosion due to waves.
The adaptation strategies provided are intended to inform and assist communities in identifying potential alternatives. They are illustrative and are presented to help communities consider possible ways to address current and future climate threats. Read the full disclaimer.