Protecting our Water Resources
The Michiana community is growing and prospering. Many landuse changes are part of this growth. With growth comes the responsibility for careful planning and proactive measures to ensure that progress does not come at the cost of our natural resources.
When we think of environmental pollution, we most often conjure up images of smoking factories, toxic waste dumps and oil spills. What we don't realize, however, is that the leading cause of water quality problems is from pollutants that don’t originate from a single source or enter waterways at a particular site.
This type of widespread pollution, called nonpoint source pollution, occurs when rainfall, snowmelt or irrigation runs over land, picks up pollutants and deposits them into streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. In urban areas, this most often happens when runoff from hard surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and buildings, washes pollutants into storm drains. Unlike wastewater, which is treated before it is released, stormwater flows untreated into local waterways
Water Quality and Our Water Resources
Water resources in the region provide a variety of opportunities, both recreational and as a scenic backdrop for our communities. Its watershed includes runoff and drainage from several counties and numerous smaller rivers and tributaries. Polluted runoff from municipalities, agriculture, forestry and construction activities causes physical changes to the river’s channel, harms fish and wildlife populations, kills native vegetation and impairs recreational use.
A Partnership is Created
The Michiana Stormwater Partnership formed to comply with MS4 regulations and educate those who live and work in the community about the hazards of stormwater pollution. Municipal and college officials are jointly working to address:
Protection Under the Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was implemented to protect our nation’s water supply. As part of this effort to protect and maintain water quality, the EPA established the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Program, known as MS4.
The City of Mishawaka, the City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, the Town of Roseland, the Town of Osceola, St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District, St. Joseph River Basin Commission, Ivy Tech Community College and Bethel College — collectively known as the Michiana Stormwater Partnership (MSP) — have been designated MS4 entities and must comply with MS4 program requirements.