Urban Waters Federal Partnership—Little Calumet River (Northwest Indiana)

Science Center Objects

The USGS works with a wide range of cooperators to investigate many aspects of water quality. The newly integrated USGS Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center is assisting in furthering urban water-quality research in Northwest Indiana.

Rain gardens are a popular green infrastructure approach to removing chemicals from stormwater runoff before it flows into sewers and local streams. Rain gardens also reduce the amount of stormwater that gets into the sewer system. As part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP), the USGS is working with the Gary (Indiana) Stormwater Management District to evaluate how rain gardens affect infiltration of stormwater that seasonally contains deicing chemicals. The monitoring, which involves continuous measurement of specific conductance, feeds into existing work between the USGS and the City of Gary designed to better understand how rain gardens affect the water budget of stormwater flows.

In a second UWFP project, the USGS assisted in the installation of water temperature sensors in tributaries of Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, and in managing and reporting the data. The real-time streamflow and temperature data benefits recreational use of the stream and flood and thermal forecasting. Water temperature data are used in recreational fishing to target stream reaches and times when cold-water and warm-water sport fish predominate and by sport paddlers to identify appropriate thermal protective safety gear. The data also will assist in management of the invasive bighead carp and sea lamprey. Bighead carp reproduce more successfully in warmer water temperatures, and sea lamprey kill more fish in warmer water than in colder water. This project is being done in cooperation with the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission and with the Sanitary District of Michigan City.

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Stakeholder Quote

You [USGS] have great coverage on the Little Calumet River. The US Fish and Wildlife Service/Great Lakes Fishery Commission sea lamprey control programs are certainly interested in the … temperature data.
     — Brian Breidert, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Fisheries Biologist

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More about other Urban Waters Federal Partnership projects