East Chicago falls into the Grand Calumet River Watershed Area. This means that when it rains, all flowing surface water ends up draining into the Grand Calumet River, which then leads to Lake Michigan.
The US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement currently has 25 listed "area of concerns" within the United States, with the Grand Calumet River being one of them. They define AOCs as "geographic areas designated by the Parties where significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level." An AOC is a location that has experienced environmental degradation.
While the Grand Calumet River is largely an area of concern due to legacy pollutants from industrial facilities prior to the Clean Water Act in 1972, it is important that we all do our part to help prevent additional pollution.
How to help prevent stormwater pollution at home:
Pick up after your pets
Leaving pet waste uncollected is both gross and harmful to water bodies. Pet waste contains parasites and pathogenic bacteria. When it rains, stormwater runoff picks this up and brings it into local waterbodies.
Pet waste also contains excess nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, that can lead to algae blooms. Algae depletes oxygen levels in the water, disrupting ecosystem balance, and can release toxins harmful to both humans and aquatic life.
Go to the car wash instead of washing car at home!
The runoff from washing your car carries pollutants such as soap, dirt, and oil residue into the storm drains leading to the Grand Calumet River.
Commercial car washes are equipped to use water more efficiently, recycle the wastewater collected, and eventually have the water treated at sanitary rather than allowing the water to release into the river.
Keep yard waste out of the drains
Yard waste includes materials such as fallen leaves and grass clippings. When not properly managed, this waste can clog storm drains and lead to issues such as flooding and algae blooms.
Properly dispose of yard waste by composting, mulching, or bagging for curbside pickup. Information about this years bagged leaf collection program can be found by clicking here.
DO NOT BURN YARD WASTES.
Apply pesticides and fertilizers according to instructions
More is not always better! Excess pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides can be washed off and carried to local water bodies. DO NOT APPLY BEFORE A FORECASTED RAIN.
Pesticide and herbicide pollution is poisonous and can kill desirable plants and insects. Fertilizer pollution causes excessive nutrients in waterways and can lead to algae blooms.
Properly dispose of all household hazardous wastes (HHW)
Common household hazardous wastes include items such as paints, cleaners, oils, pesticides, batteries, pool care products, and more. These items should not be poured down drains or thrown away, but instead collected and dropped of on a HHW collection day. Find schedule below.