Description of the video:
>> All right, hi everyone. Welcome to the prepared for environmental change webinar series hosted by the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute. We would like to acknowledge and to honor the Mian yaki Manabe. Buddha wide meek and so on where people as past present and future caretakers of the lands on which Indiana University Bloomington is located.
These ancestral indigenous homelands are in resources are the current home of the environmental resilience institute. We encourage everyone to engage with contemporary communities to learn the histories of this land to look at who has and who does not have access to its resources and to examine your own place abilities and obligations within this process of reparative work.
Our webinar today will focus on restoring waterways to protect your community specifically applied to urban streams and waterways in Indiana. All webinar attendees are muted. Please enter your questions into the chat function which you can access by hovering your mouse over the Zoom window. In the last few minutes of the webinar, we will share a feedback survey through a zoom poll.
So if you could fill that out, that would be great. We are recording today's webinar. I'll share a link to that recording along with a follow up of resources with all registrants early next week so that you can share what you've learned today with your colleagues. And now I'm very pleased to introduce today's moderator Matt Flaherty our implementation manager at URI
>> Thank you Amanda and welcome everyone we're very excited that you could join us today. So our ability to provide clean drinking water mitigate floods and droughts and support biodiversity in our communities relies on the health of our waterways and aquatic ecosystems. By enhancing the resilience of these waterways, local governments can ensure that their rivers and streams are able to perform their essential ecological and social functions and guard against detrimental human impacts including climate change impacts.
So we're very pleased to welcome Dr. Todd Royer from the O'Neill school as our first guest today. Through his research and work he has been actively involved in assessing water quality in streams and rivers in Indiana. We're also excited to have our second speaker Jennifer Burchfield from the northwest Indiana Urban Waters partnership who will be discussing her work in protecting, restoring and revitalizing urban waterways in Lake Porter and Laporte counties.
They're prepared for environmental change webinar series is coordinated by Indiana University's environmental resilience Institute ESRI has many other resources available to local governments and the general public. Next slide please. There we are. So one resource that I did wanna highlight today is the resilience cohort. The resilience cohort program helps Indiana city town and county governments to measure and track greenhouse gas emissions, develop climate action plans and implement climate solutions and a stage series within the program.
As we wrap up the 2021 cohort, the third year of the program, nearly half the state's population is now covered by a community scale greenhouse gas emissions inventory, an important first step in emissions reductions. For the 2022 resilience cohort, the application deadline was actually Friday last week, but for the climate action planning stage in particular, we potentially have capacity to bring in a few more local government participants.
So, if you're on the call, and had thought about applying, or have a colleague, who was thinking about it but missed the deadline, please reach out to us this week as we may still be able to accommodate you. We also hope you'll be able to join us for next month's webinar, which will focus on strategies and opportunities to finance climate preparedness projects in order to transition to a more climate resilient economy and community.
And we encourage you to share this opportunity with friends and colleagues in your network. We'd like to thank aim or accelerate Indiana municipalities. As the association of Indiana counties, health by design and the Indiana Public Health Association for their ongoing support of this webinar series. And thank you to the attendees of the webinar today as well.
This slide displays just a few folks from state and local governments and other organizations who are on the call today. We'd encourage you to share the recording that Amanda notice she would choose to share with attendees with colleagues of yours who may enjoy it as well. It'll also be posted on the environmental resilience institute YouTube page within a week or so.
And finally, before I turn it over to our presenters, I did want to highlight your eyes commitment to environmental justice. And working to fight systemic racism in our work. In the context of today's webinar, I wanted to highlight equity issues related to waterway restoration specifically. So managing and restoring waterways for resilience covers a wide variety of topic areas.
And the one highlighted in this map on the map on this slide involves flooding impacts which are worsening due to climate change and shows how populations living in floodplains are disproportionately communities of colour. This map comes from the ers Hoosier resilience index tool, where all Indiana communities can identify flooding impacts and other climate change impacts specific to their particular city town or county, and view their intersection with different socio economic vulnerabilities in a customised tool.
So finally, I'd like to introduce our speakers and turn it over to them for the day. First we have Dr. Todd Royer, who is a professor in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington. His research focuses on the processes that affect water quality in streams and rivers and he has published extensively on the impacts of nutrient loading and agricultural runoff on freshwater ecosystems in Indiana and the Midwest.
Dr. Royer has also been involved with stream restoration and channel improvement projects in Northern Indiana. He has served on water quality advisory committees for several states and has been an expert witness in a federal lawsuit on water quality in the Chicago area. Jennifer Birchfield is the Northwest Indiana Urban Waters coordinator for the Northwest Indiana Urban Waters partnership, a coalition of 14 federal agencies working with 19 locations to restore urban waterways and their surrounding lands.
In her role, Jennifer works with diverse stakeholders to identify water quality and restoration priorities, develop work plans and connect those working with federal agencies to help advance, track and implement regional priorities.
>> All right. Thank you, Matt. I'm hoping everyone sees my slides now. Least the title slide.
>> Good. All right, great. Well, I'm happy to be here and talk a little bit about stream restoration. And I'll start by saying, my background is in ecology and biology and so my focus here will lean towards that rather than towards hydrology, right? So there's a lot of information on the hydrological flooding, benefits of stream restoration but that's not really my area.
I'm more on the biology, ecology and water quality side. So, we're here. So there's sort of three general areas that I wanna talk about today. We'll talk a little bit about the status of Indiana streams, the need and opportunities for restoration. And then I'll end by talking a little bit about the realities.
And I think that this is a very important aspect of stream restoration to be aware of.
>> It seems like a lot of. Okay, there was somebody else. So why is stream restoration needed? And this may seem obvious, but for a general audience, I think it's worth a brief mention here.
There are a lot of stressors on aquatic ecosystems particularly streams. In urban areas, there's a lot of stressors on streams in agricultural in rural areas too. But in urban areas we see often very low flow during the summer, sometimes full desiccation of the streams, and that then creates heat and oxygen stress for aquatic life.
Poor riparian vegetation. And that's obvious in some of these photos here that there's just a lack of any real stable vegetation on the stream banks to prevent erosion, to stabilize the channel. A lot of storm water inputs that leads to erosion both within the channel and in surrounding areas.
And then that translates into sedimentation, right? So we see a lot of input and accumulation of sediments. Channels are often simplified, they're straightened, they're dredged, sometimes they're put into concrete channels. And when that happens, what we see is the habitat becomes simplified and there's just a complete loss of those diverse habitat features that are needed to maintain high quality biological communities.
Of course, we have pollution inputs both point and non-point sources. So those things coming out of pipes versus non-point which is, diffuse inputs of pollutants from the landscape. A very common one is fertilizer runoff, bigger issue probably in rural agricultural areas but certainly an issue in a lot of urban areas as well.
And when we have those nutrients of fertilizer inputs often that leads to excess growth of algae, a process we call eutrophication. Which then itself has a whole series of ecological implications. The end result of all of these things then is loss of desirable species. So, here are some of our native mussels in Indiana.
And of course, the aquatic insects that are absolutely critical to a well functioning stream or river food web. And then proliferation of undesirable species, and that would include things like toxin forming cyanobacteria, which are becoming a greater and greater problem throughout Indiana and throughout the Midwest. So, that's kind of the result of this, and when we put this all together and you look at sort of the big picture.
I'm sure many people have heard about the biodiversity crisis that we're experiencing right now. It's actually a freshwater biodiversity crisis, although it's the birds and mammals that get a lot of the press. But this is a graphic from the nature conservancy that shows the status for various groups in the United States.
And what I will point out here is that the top five most endangered groups are all freshwater groups, freshwater mussels, crayfish, stone flies which aquatic insect, fish, and then amphibians. And then down here are dragonflies and damselflies. So within the US when we think about our threats to biodiversity, it's really a freshwater issue.
I think that is lost often because the two lowest groups, the birds and the mammals here, get a lot of the media attention. Within Indiana unfortunately, we have no shortage of endangered freshwater organisms both fish, some are federally endangered or state endangered. Others are species of concern, meaning that their populations are in decline, the habitat they rely on is in decline.
And then of course the freshwater mussels. Indiana's a state that had a very diverse suite of freshwater mussels and most of them now are in some state of decline or concern. Stream restoration is an opportunity to begin to correct these losses in biodiversity. And I wanna point out that IDEM, Indiana Department of Environmental Management they assess the state's waterways every two years.
They submit what's called the 303(d) List, it's a requirement under the Clean Water Act. And I've pulled those data out here and put them in this table. The top row is 2018, the bottom row is 2020. And if we just look at the stream miles here, we're looking at a little over 21,000 stream miles within Indiana that are suffering some form of impairment.
That means there's no lack of opportunity for stream restoration. And that, really anywhere you go in Indiana, there are streams in need of restoration. The same can be said for lakes, over 135 lakes that are considered impaired or at least portions of lakes. When IDEM does this, they also make an estimate of what's causing that impairment.
And this is the list, and again the first column here is 2018, the second column is 2020. We don't see any real big changes between 2018 and 2020. What I wanna point out is that four of the top five, E.coli, right? Pathogen or an indicator of pathogens in the water.
Biological integrity, which refers to the overall health of the aquatic community. And that's based largely on aquatic invertebrates, and fish. Dissolved oxygen, and nutrient levels. Those four things are really amenable to stream restoration. So the things that are causing that 21,000 miles of stream impairment, the most common causes here are things that we can address with stream restoration.
Now what is stream restoration? Well, I borrowed this graphic from Montgomery County Maryland which is a location that has really done some nice restoration work. They've made it a priority both to do the restoration, and then to educate people about stream restoration. And there are here, I don't know about a dozen different techniques that they've drawn into this cartoon showing different things that they are using.
And they all have technical terms, right? Stone toe protections, and J hooks, and cross veins. These are all habitat improvement techniques that are designed to restore the habitat necessary to support good biological communities. And they can be in channel like cross veins and J hooks, or they can address the banks or even areas, riparian areas adjacent to the stream.
And there's a lot of other techniques that aren't shown on this diagram, but this shows a lot of the really common approaches or techniques that are used to improve stream conditions. The goal here being to reduce those stressors or those causes of impairment and improve the biological community.
In doing so, then we also improve water quality, right? So if we reduce sediment inputs, if we allow for more retention of the water within the channel behind some of these structures, we will improve water quality as well. Pictures are worth 1,000 words when it comes to restoration.
This is an example, again, from Montgomery County in Maryland showing a before-after restoration. And if you look at this tree right here that has this V-notch in it, that's the same tree on the after side right there. So they've addressed this slumping bank and this bank erosion by recontouring the bank, planting it with vegetation.
And then it looks like they've done some reworking of the rock material here to protect the outside bend on this curve and the channel. There's a little bit of information here underneath about this particular project, 2,000 linear feet. Natural channel design principles, that's a concept within stream restoration that you wanna design the channel in a way that's stable and will last.
What I really wanna point out here though is this last sentence, the project required coordination with local residents, collaboration with the Department of Transportation. These kinds of projects usually involve a large and diverse group of stakeholders. And that's something to always consider when doing this. To give you a sense of some of the other in-channel techniques that are used.
There's a various kinds of weirs and cross veins that are used to try and control flow, move the flow from areas of erosion. Or to just create a more diverse set of flow conditions and habitat conditions to support a biological diversity. Here's another example. It's very common to use trees, right, to anchor trees and to use them in a way that both creates habitat, creates flow diversity.
But can also direct the flow away from areas prone to erode and towards more stable areas of the channel. The bottom line here is that the choice of restoration techniques and the kinds of structures that you want to install should be guided by really well defined project goals.
It's a big mistake to just kinda jump into this without thinking it all through. And you wanna identify the cause of the impairment. Is it something related to in-the-channel, just a lack of habitat or sedimentation within the channel? Or is the cause of the impairment coming from the watershed, in which case in-channel improvements may have relatively little outcome or beneficial result.
Because the stress is coming in from the watershed not being directly addressed through in-channel restoration. So you wanna select those techniques that have a high likelihood of correcting that impairment. And you have to always recognize that the stream itself is within the context of this larger watershed. And so you need to sort of assess the full watershed, what's going on there?
Is there gonna be more impervious surface, more development, is that gonna delay or even offset what you might be doing to try and improve in channel-habitat? It sort of comes down to picking your battles in terms of deciding what areas of a stream to try and restore. I wanna mention one other restoration technique that is growing in popularity, and that's daylighting.
And daylighting refers to uncovering previously buried stream channels. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, it was really common as cities grew to simply take the streams, put them in a big pipe, and then build roads and buildings on top of it, right? And this was just burying the streams.
Ecologically, this of course, essentially kills the stream. But more importantly or at least what's led to a lot of daylighting is this also exacerbates flooding. Because now you have a very defined capacity of that stream because it's buried in a pipe. And with climate change leading to higher intensity rainfall events, we're seeing that the capacity of these buried stream channels is being exceeded and that's exacerbating above ground flooding.
This happened in New York City after a hurricane, can't remember which hurricane was. Anyway, Brooklyn is now looking at daylighting Tibbets Creek, a long creek that runs through Brooklyn to try and control some of the flooding that they're experiencing now from having buried that stream back in the early part of the 20th century.
So daylighting, if you wanna read more about it, American Rivers has a lot of information on daylighting stream channels in urban areas. So I'll mention a little bit about the realities. It is not an exact science, stream restoration comes with a lot of uncertainty, and it often looks worse before it looks better.
And riparian vegetation can take several years to grow up and look mature. These photographs, it's often heavy machinery that comes in to reorganize a channel and get the habitat features in place. And a lot of times residents and other stakeholders are not happy with how it looks before it regrows and starts to look like a stream channel again.
So you have to sorta recognize that it's gonna look worse before it looks better and communicate that to stakeholders. It's expensive, right? These restoration techniques, if you're talking long sections of a stream can often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars easily, when you're talking about bringing in heavy equipment.
This is a summary from a study done that was published in 2005, right? So 15 years ago, looking at the median cost for various projects that they had examined. And if you're talking about land acquisition, of course, that's gonna be very expensive. But even fairly simple things like improving fish passage with fish ladders and other things can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
So recognize that a significant amount of stream restoration is gonna have costs. There's no guarantee of a particular outcome. This is a diagram that I use a lot in my classes, showing different recovery pathways. So all the community start here in a good condition. And then they get degraded through time, and now they're down here, right, in a poor condition.
And we start the restoration process, right, we remove the stress. And in our minds we think, okay, we removed the stress, it's gonna go right back to that pre-disturbance condition, and that's actually pretty rare. This is referred to as the rubber band model, right? The rubber band will always snap back to what it was before, but that's pretty rare.
It's more likely we see delayed recovery, or recovery to something different from the original condition. Or in this final diagram here, we do the recovery, but it becomes very unpredictable. And there's this outcome range that we see that never achieves what it was prior to degradation. And so you have to recognize that there's no outcome that you can guarantee in terms of communicating to stakeholders.
And then lastly, monitoring is absolutely critical. We can learn from our experiences, make adjustments, sorta on the fly if it's a multi-year kinda restoration. And you can inform stakeholders, and the only way you can inform stakeholders is if you have data to do that. Recognize that good monitoring is expensive, and useful monitoring is long-term.
All right, so it's not a one-off kinda thing, it's an ongoing activity. That same 2005 assessment found that only 10% of the stream restoration projects that they examined had any form of assessment or monitoring. That's gotten a little bit better in the last 15 years. But it's still well under half of stream restoration projects have any meaningful monitoring.
Useful monitoring is a lot more than just collecting technical data. That has to be translated into useful information for stakeholders. And when we fail to do that, when we try to short circuit what I've diagrammed here, we end up with something often referred to as information overload. And it's because the information hasn't been translated into a useful form for stakeholders to act on.
And I'll end by saying that there are lots of resources available. A quick Google search will bring up all kinds of stuff. I've just put four commonly used reference materials or books on this slide that you can easily get a hold of. And so, if you're thinking about undertaking a stream restoration, it's really worth doing some homework ahead of time to learn from past case studies and to get a good sense of what the challenges will be.
And so that's my presentation and I'll hand it over to Jennifer I think, right?
>> Yes, thank you, thank you everyone for inviting me here today. And thank you Dr. Royer, I enjoyed your presentation. If you're ever up in our Northwest Indiana corner of the state, I'd encourage you to look me up.
And maybe see some of the projects that have been done locally on restoration. One that comes to mind is at the Indiana Dunes State Park. There was a really significant daylighting project. Actually I think the monitoring data really indicates phenomenal decreases in E.coli to the beach after that project was completed.
So thank you for setting the stage, and I see a lot of ties between our presentation. My name is Jen Burchfield. Again, I am the Northwest Indiana Urban Waters Federal Partnership Coordinator. And today I'd just like to tell you a little bit about the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, and some of the projects that we and our partners have on the ground here in Northwest Indiana to try and revitalize our urban waterways.
So first of all, what is Urban Waters? Urban Waters is a national initiative really intended to encourage federal agencies to work more effectively and efficiently with one another. We know that sometimes there's overlap and duplication of efforts. So we really want to address that and work together. To engage local communities as full partners in restoring and protecting their waterways.
A lot of this work you really need local drivers in order to move it forward. And really focusing on restoring our urban waterways and that being a mechanism to also revitalizing our communities. So some of the guiding principles of Urban Waters, just briefly. We want to promote clean urban waterways, reconnect people to their waterways, encourage conservation.
Be open and honest and listen to our community partners. Focus on measuring results and evaluation to fuel future success. Emphasize urban water systems as a way to promote economic revitalization and prosperity. Often in the communities in which we work there are severe economic concerns, and water resources play a big role in that.
And I actually, I can't see, I gotta move my little bubble there. Encourage community improvements through active partnership. Really this work is all about partnerships and working with others to advance priorities. I won't go through all of the text that is on this text-heavy slide. But just to give you an idea of the different federal partnership agencies that are engaged in Urban Waters at the federal level, there are many of them.
The ones that I have shown sort of highlighted in blue here are the ones that are especially active here in our Northwest Indiana location. The most active I would say of those being really the US Forest Service is one of our co-lead partners. The NRCS does a lot of work with AG because we are an urban partnership.
But we recognize that, at least in our region, a lot of our waterways start in more rural agricultural areas and then flow into our urban communities. The Army Corps of Engineers, really a very active partner. US Geological Survey, as well as US Fish and Wildlife Service, very involved in sort of monitoring and advising on kind of the scientific and technical nature of things.
National Park Service, we do have a newly designated national park here in Northwest Indiana, the Indiana Dunes National Park. And of course, the Environmental Protection Agency very engaged in our region, with their regional office being located in Chicago. So Urban Waters does have 20 different, actually I believe it's up to 21 now, I need to update this slide.
20 different locations throughout the United States. Of course here in Indiana, this red dot in the northwest corner being our location. Some of the reasons that this location was selected I believe is that, one, we already had very strong partnerships on the ground working to do things like watershed management, stream restoration, public access improvements.
But we also are in a very unique situation where we do have tremendous natural resources. The Indiana Dunes region is one of the most biodiverse regions in the country. But it's sort of nestled between this sort of post-industrial area with a lot of legacy contamination issues. So again, the Northwest Indiana location, we were one of the original pilot locations in 2011.
So we're coming into our ten-year sort of anniversary here. We are co-led by US EPA, US Forest Service, National Park Service. But we do work with over 80 federal state and local partners. When I say local partners, that's a variety of stakeholders from nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits to local municipal government to even private industry and private consultants.
So I just wanna flash up our work premise guide sort of all the work that we do to make sure that we're listening to our local partners and what they need. We do develop this every year with partner input. I typically draft it. But then work very closely with our partners to review and and modify it.
It does always contain our previous year accomplishments so that we can always be you know evaluating the impact of our efforts. And I will just point out that some of our key projects that advance over the water goals in Northwest Indiana some are directly initiated by urban waters by myself or by our federal partners.
Others are really driven by local partners and we do make every effort to make sure that we give credit where credit is due. Just a few of our key initiatives that I'd like to talk about today these are taken from our work plan. One is the communitree initiative.
We also do a lot of watershed management and green infrastructure work, public accessibility improvements, watershed education and septic system work. And really today I'll focus on these top three just in the interest of time they seem to be the best fit with today's topic. So CommuniTree Calumet, CommuniTree Calumet was born in 2016 at one of our quarterly partnership meetings where one of our stakeholders stood up and said, we could really use support in the urban forestry arena.
We had recently had emerald ash borer pest come through the region are still coming through the region. That really decimated our urban forest and took out all of the ash trees which were very common street trees very common along our waterways. Some of our partners said, we could really use some, some help planning for this and addressing this.
US Forest Service being one of our core lead partners, of course, it seemed like a good fit. So since 2016, we have a number of partners working together, we've planted and maintained over 9,000 native trees in the region. As well as engaging many volunteers, training youth in urban forestry, worked with many different communities.
We also hold topics on forestry topics so that we can kind of increase the capacity for sound urban forestry in our region. And oops, I did not mean to advance let me go back. So the relevance here, you name me a topical area that you're concerned with an environmental issue, a community issue.
And very often trees can be a part of the solution. So certainly when we're talking about climate change, carbon sequestration, really when we're talking about watershed management, water quality letting, trees can absorb a tremendous amount of storm water. And certainly trees along our waterways help to kind of hold the soil in place and stabilize that riverside.
So a couple of examples here. We have three main modalities that we use to plant trees, our Regional Planning Commission, or nerve theme they do pass through grants to our municipal partners so that they can get access to high quality native trees and plant those in their communities.
We have a organization called wildlife habitat council, we have a large amount of industrial area in our region and so that amounts to a lot of the plantable space that we have in our community. Planting directly on industry can contribute benefits like shielding our communities and providing buffers, improving air quality, cooling the urban heat island effect.
And finally, the Student Conservation Association has a tree team that does planting and maintenance of trees in our region as well as community engagement. And I did wanna say a little bit more about that last component, the Calumet tree Conservation Corps that is administered by the Student Conservation Association that is a paid crew of five local young adults.
They are working each year during the planting season actually throughout the entire summer. They're learning about urban forestry, gaining on the job training and certifications. Because really in our area, this program is as I have here is I'm really focused on Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting. These are communities that are located within what we call the grand Calumet area of concern.
It's a very post industrial area where we have a lot of environmental justice concerns, a lot of historic contamination and a lot of socio-economic concerns, a lot of kind of disinvestment in these areas. So really when we look at these projects, we have these environmental benefits in mind but sometimes what's top of mind to the community partners in the residents may be things like job opportunities, job training.
So it's a really important aspect of the program. They do hold volunteer plantings on Saturdays. So really trying to get the community out to provide input into where the trees go, what types of trees go in, so that we can get that community buy in. And I won't read through this text heavy slide again, but just to give you an idea of all of the extensive training and certifications that these youth workers do receive over the course of the program.
Watershed management I think Dr Royer in your presentation you kinda alluded to their kind of the in stream considerations and then there's also what's going on in the watershed. They're really in Northwest Indiana. This is a large area that spans three counties in northern half of three counties.
Yes, Indiana is a Great Lakes state. Some might forget that downstate sometimes, but we do border like Michigan and so we're working in the waterways that do flow into Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana. So you can see we have many different waterways from the Grand Calumet river going over the little Calumet to Trail Creek and also a number of communities municipalities, Michigan City, Chesterton, Valparaiso, Gary B, Chicago, so a lot of different people to work together with.
And certainly when we're trying to address things like nonpoint source pollution that comes not just straight out of the pipes but off of the land that's flowing into the waterway, those solutions need to be implemented and decided upon at a very local level. So we work with local watershed groups.
You can see the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has a list of approved watershed management plans, and several of those do apply to our region. So I did want to just I think pictures are sometimes worth more than words. So I just put this in here as sort of some examples of the type of work that we might do in some of our watersheds to install a lot of it's installing what we call green infrastructure, green solutions to some of these problems and some restoration project.
The first thing you can see up in the left corner is a habitat restoration that was completed at George's Park beach in East Chicago. This was historically one of the most polluted beaches in the country. It was closed I believe as much as 80 or 90% of the days of the recreational season due to bacterial contamination.
A lot of reasons for that some of it being you can see this breakwater that kind of causes water to circulate here and stagnate. But a lot of different partners working on this to make sure that people in this community have access to a clean beach. You can see here in this picture all of the grass that's this along here, that is a restoration project undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers to restore beach grasses, they also planted.
Native trees like Jack pines to this area. And a little bit offshore here there's actually some fish habitat installations some sorta creative briefs to improve habitat. Another example moving over towards the right, many sort of rain gardens or bio retention installations in our region. So the idea being if we have a lot of impervious surface, to kind of channel that water into an area where it can soak into the ground, rather than rushing quickly into a water body carrying pollutants, and potentially causing flooding.
So this is an installation at the Gehry city hall where they did remove an old vacant hotel building, and replaced a lot of the existing concrete, and impervious surface with a rain garden. We were able to partner with the US Geological Survey to install some monitoring equipment there, to really get a look at the impact of that project.
And they have some really compelling reports coming out. Moving down to the bottom, the little Calumet river riparian protection and restoration. And so, we do have some areas where I'm actually just, Organizations working to acquire some of the land that is in a natural state, along our priority waterways.
So they can protect that from development, work to restore it, and get it into a healthier condition. We do have, this as one interesting project along Trail Creek in Michigan City where I live. We had a historic unregulated landfill right along the edge of the creek. So as that creek beds started to erode, they would just get plastic bags, and old tin cans, and all kinds of things washing out.
So the city did work with partners to remediate that landfill. And then also an adjacent project called the Cheney run wetland project, where they installed sort of a storm water wetland. Whew capture some of the water before it rushed into the stream, addressed some of that erosion and flooding that was resulting.
And then finally this is an exciting project the Deep River Dam modification. We had a very unsafe dam, located on Deep River in the town of Horbury. And partners came together over this. This took decades to get this actually accomplished. But to actually modify that dam rather than removing it, which was kinda of the simplest idea to come to you.
The community really didn't want the dam removed. They wanted to maintain the water level behind it. They liked it for fishing. So rather than removing that dam, they made some modifications. So now there is a safer system for paddlers. We have a lot of canoers and kayakers who want to access the river.
They can now safely go over this dam. It's also really improved fish passage in this river. And lastly I did want to just say a few words about public accessibility. We really believe that in order to restore our urban waterways, people don't tend to take actions to protect something that they don't know, and that they don't understand.
So, it's really important that we maintain accessibility to these waterways, so that people can enjoy them. So that we really are contributing to their quality of life. If you have a river running through your community, it doesn't matter how clean it is, if you can't access it, and aren't aware of it.
So these are just a couple of examples. This was way back in 2015. The construction of an ADA accessible launch on Trail Creek. This was one of the first in the state. And now people can go access that site. Even people who may be differently abled who are in a wheelchair can actually access the river in a canoe, or kayak at this site.
More recently, we have another launch that was installed again on Deep River in Lake Station. So since 2011, eight canoe and kayak launches have been installed on five different waterways across our region. And six of those are ADA compliant. So, we're very excited about that. We have a local paddling Association, that sort of fear leads that work.
So very excited about that as well. And with that, I just have my contact information. I do send a monthly Urban Waters newsletter out to our partners. I would say the most clicks section of that is grant opportunities. We do a lot of work to connect our local partners who are doing the on the ground work, to grant opportunities, funding opportunities, technical assistance.
So certainly, anyone throughout the state of the country? Anyone who's interested in receiving that newsletter, hearing more about our partners work and accomplishments, technical resources, please feel free to join our E News list. Thank you.
>> All right, thanks so much, Jennifer and Todd for sharing those excellent presentations.
We'll go ahead and kick off some q and a. So for folks on the call on the webinar if you'd like to drop any questions you have in the chat, and we had a few comments during the presentations. But please do, feel free to ask the questions you have.
I'll moderate and field those. And hopefully we can have some good discussion around waterway restoration issues this last 15 minutes. I think I'll go ahead and start with some initial thoughts. And we'll see if we can get folks chiming in as well. Thinking of the two presentations together, one challenge that I think you both highlighted and taught in particular highlighted.
The idea that financing can be a challenge that these things aren't necessarily. These projects aren't necessarily low cost, local governments in particular are often very constrained fiscally. But I think Jennifer, your presentation highlighted a lot of the CO benefits that communities get out of these types of projects, from increasing access, recreation opportunities, economic development.
Can you speak a little more to your experience in working with communities, or what you see in this space that really helps communities take projects into the action stages.
>> All right, I can speak to that just briefly.
>> Unfortunately, I mentioned I kind of ended on the topic of grants federal grants.
Unfortunately, many of the projects that I spoke about today are funded through grant funding. A local municipalities just do not have, some of them do, some of the more affluent communities are investing in these things with tax dollars. But most of our communities do not have the tax stream available to invest in these things.
And while you're right that, over the long term, there have been some economic studies that, the ecosystem we call them ecosystem services, that are brought about by some of these projects. They're vast, they're really impressive things like job creation, tourism creation, storm water, flooding reduction, storm water treatment, wastewater treatment.
The benefits really do tend to pay off, but it is that initial upfront investment, that takes a lot of funding. And sometimes a lot of creativity to come up with those funds. We are trying to encourage our partners whenever they can, to explore different funding opportunities. Some municipalities may have a storm water fee, in their community where if there's a new development that comes in and has a huge amount of impervious surface, they pay a fee based on that goes into a storm water fund.
That can then be reinvested in some of these projects. So things like that are a little bit more sustainable than necessarily relying on federal grants. But certainly, there are a lot of benefits in the long term to these projects. It's just difficult sometimes to come up with that initial investment.
The other last point I will make, is the maintenance costs. Something that we're always harping on is that, partners be cognizant of the maintenance Have these practices and have funds set aside so that, sometimes if you're installing, say pervious pavement or a practice that's going to have to be vacuumed or maintained on a regular schedule.
You really have to have a plan for that maintenance, as well as the funds and the budget set aside to do that, because most grants are not going to pay for the long term maintenance. They'll pay for the initial upfront investment but then the community is on the hook for the maintenance.
>> Thank you Jennifer Todd was there anything to add on your end on what you've seen successful in the financing side of things?
>> Well, the one project I was involved with most heavily was the result. The financing came from a lawsuit. Where actually it was the state of Indiana had degraded the stream and the landowner sued one and got the money to restore.
Yeah, it's really not my area, I mean, funding it I write a lot of research grants right but not that sort of community project grants, so it's a little out of my area.
>> That's totally okay, thanks. And yeah, lots of good thoughts that we had a few things in the chat coming up as well.
I saw we had a post about a State Grants Link from Scott, as well as I mentioned that some folks in Marion County had been looking at the idea of using community development block grant funding. I know with smaller communities sometimes those are competitive grants as well they can apply for.
I think that highlighting storm water utilities as a potential funding source Jennifer is a great one. And I even wonder about tax increment financing or other tools when you've got these benefits coming later from the work of a restoration project that can help communities fund things upfront. But certainly appreciate the link for the grant state grant opportunities as well as the mention of your newsletter, Jennifer, that folks can sign up for to help find out about additional federal grant opportunities and others.
Any other questions folks, have I see one in the chat here. Does Urban Waters work with any private or public lake groups in Northwest Indiana before during or after restoring waterways?
>> There a great question. We do have some smaller communities that I don't believe they're even, some of them are not even an incorporated town or municipality but it's more of a neighborhood level.
Some neighborhood communities that are situated around lakes, I'm thinking like the Lake Louise, some of our inland lakes that we do work with. Some of those have undertaken watershed management planning. They've utilized things like the lake and river enhancement program that is through the state and other grants to do some work to manage their lakes.
Oftentimes we see in some of these inland lakes that really it is nutrients inputs being kind of the the primary source of heartburn. For people trying to prevent algal blooms and things of that nature. We certainly do work with those groups to encourage kind of looking at things holistically rather than if you have an existing source of nutrients if you can address that, rather than just addressing the problem every time it comes up with chemical treatments or things of that nature.
So we do have several lakes groups that we work with, we have the Valparaiso chain of lakes, the Report chain of lakes, and some of those other organizations.
>> Thank you for those thoughts, Jennifer. It seems like both of you have highlighted the the importance of kind of holistic planning in this space and I think there's a few themes there.
One is looking at not just the stream or waterway itself but along the banks and in the watershed, as well as ongoing maintenance requirements. I think, Todd, you meant you talked about the level of monitoring is fairly low. Overall in these types of projects, other particular interventions or advice you all would have on how to make sure communities are doing this right in terms of setup.
I know Todd, you shared a few resources, some books that folks could look into. Just trying to think if communities are trying to take the next step in identifying, funding opportunities and ways to prioritize and fit these projects into their budgets. What are a few key things to look out for to try to integrate some of these important pieces you're all talking about whether it's stakeholder engagement and education or ongoing monitoring, maybe some some key things to include?
>> Well, I would say from the monitoring standpoint, a lot of times the monitoring is sort of ad hoc, after it's sort of tacked on at the end. And that doesn't result in really a lot of useful information. So I would encourage them, you think about the monitoring from the outset.
What are the goals of the restoration? What are we gonna do? All right, and then that tells you what kinda monitoring you need in order to assess whether or not those goals have been achieved. And monitoring is an ongoing thing. Now we can have a sunset period, right?
We're gonna monitor for two years and after that we're gonna stop or depending on the type of project, and what I would encourage again, my background is ecology. So I'm gonna encourage ecological monitoring. Assuming the goals are some form of ecological restoration as opposed to simply practice monitoring, right?
Which is, well, we said we were gonna install five cross veins and we go back a year later. Yep, all five cross veins are still there. So, that's the monitoring as opposed to saying, well, did they actually improve the water quality or the biological community? So the just monitoring the existence or persistence of the structure is often what's done and that's insufficient in my opinion.
Doesn't really allow you to answer questions from stakeholders about did this work right did we see a benefit?
>> I have just one thing to tack on to that and it may be getting a little off of the topic where we're initially on but in terms of talking about resiliency.
In planning a lot of these projects, a lot of the projections for the future associated with climate change, at least in our region. Really do indicates the potential for more extreme flooding, more extreme precipitation, more extreme drought. So I think that people need to really consider that in planning some of these projects certainly from a hydrologic standpoint, but also ecologically.
If we're designing a project, say a detention basin or even a stream restoration for the 100 year flood. What does that mean going into the future and sort of trying to anticipate some of those changes that may be coming so that for one thing our practices don't fail or aren't overwhelmed.
But also that those practices can be used as future infrastructure to address those changes.
>> Thanks so much and I think I see we've got a poll that Amanda dropped in the, you should have popped up on your screen so feel free to fill that out just a few questions with feedback on how you run the presentation today.
And we've still got a few minutes that we'll wrap up with maybe any final questions from folks. And I briefly wanted to address a comment from Susan I believe it was in the chat. That's about any formal partnerships between ERI and the city of Bloomington. And I'll just mention that ERIs are implementation work and Local government partnerships all over the state have kind of ongoing iterative relationships.
So certainly we work closely with the city of Bloomington on multiple projects over time. Including, for instance, helping with the greenhouse gas emissions inventory they conducted in 2019 and others. It's really through the resilience cohort programs that arise in place that we end up partnering with local governments as well as the the climate Fellows Program historically under sustained IU.
But coming over to the GRI umbrella in the New Year to provide additional capacity workforce support and training for communities. So I think that covers that there was a brief question here from Jeff Novitzky in the chat about kind of the what happens after the grant funding opportunity is given.
The project's installed the ongoing not just potentially monitoring but maintenance and having adequate training and technical support for cities. Are there any examples? From either review of how, that's gone in practice, maybe again, things to keep in mind or pitfalls to avoid in that vein?
>> I will say just generally I know that I think I've already alluded to some of our better resourced communities that have a really robust tax base.
Have obviously been in a better position to proactively maintain some of their green infrastructure investments. So it's really I think for us just encouraging partnership between these different communities. We have been looking increasingly at some sort of models of maybe shared crews between communities. Oftentimes our communities do not have the resources to hire, a full time person to maintain and monitor their green infrastructure or to work on these issues.
So we've been kind of exploring shared teams where you might have a team similar to the Student Conservation Association. That can then do contract work in city of Gary or an adjacent community and kind of split that time. It's something that's top of mind. I think that ongoing maintenance piece and resourcing that.
I won't say that we've found the solution yet but some different creative ideas being explored.
>> Would you say this is a little bit of a plug I guess for universities in general. But a lot of times monitoring of a restoration project makes for a great master's thesis or that sort of project.
And so you can, leverage a little bit if you know won't always work due to proximity or whatever. But, you're near a university, you reach out and see if there's anyone there that's willing to or interested in leveraging that into to more of a research project master's thesis kind of work
>> I agree whole-heartedly with that.
>> Yeah, great points. Thank you both. And I think again, highlights the real importance of extensive stakeholder and engagement and community support in this type of project planning and ongoing monitoring and maintence. So again if you haven't already please fill out the very brief webinar feedback poll before you exit.
And also join me in thanking Dr Todd Royer and Jennifer Burchfield for joining us today and sharing their expertise on restoring waterways. Thanks so much.
>> Thank you thanks everyone