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News Releases from Region 05

EPA provides $350,000 to Indiana for bird management, bacteria reduction at Northwest Indiana beaches

04/23/2018
Contact Information: 
Allison Lippert (lippert.allison@epa.gov)
312-353-0967

CHICAGO − (April 23, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $350,000 to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to implement a nearshore bird management program at Jeorse Park, Buffington Harbor, Whihala, and Hammond beaches on the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana. The beaches are located within the Grand Calumet River area of concern, one of 43 toxic hotspots identified by the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes basin. Bird management programs have proven to be an effective strategy to reduce levels of E. coli bacteria that contribute to beach closures.

“EPA is proud to fund a project that protects public health and keeps our Northwest Indiana beaches clean,” said Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Cathy Stepp. “The continued success of this program would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of our state and local partners.” 

“This program makes Indiana’s beaches healthier for citizens and visitors,” said Bruno Pigott, Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. “This success is supported by data. Since its implementation, E. coli exceedance rates at participating beaches have been at their lowest levels since Indiana’s Beach Monitoring and Notification Program began in 2004.”

Studies have shown that gulls and geese are major contributors to the bacterial contamination affecting the beaches in the Grand Calumet River area of concern. This summer, IDEM will implement a comprehensive nearshore bird management program that expands on similar efforts from the past two beach seasons. The program, which relies on border collie patrol teams, wildlife-proof trash and recycling bins, and light-reflecting structures, deters gull and other nuisance bird activity on the beaches. As a result, E. coli bacteria exceedances are significantly reduced. The program aims to reduce beach closures and ultimately remove environmental impairments that contribute to the Grand Calumet River’s designation as an area of concern.

This funding was made available through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. EPA has funded more than 900 projects to address GLRI’s highest priorities: cleaning up highly-contaminated “areas of concern,” reducing nutrient runoff, combating invasive species and restoring habitat. For more information, visit: https://www.glri.us/