Federal funds to pay for numerous river water quality improvement projects in Fort Wayne

The News-Sentinel
October 10, 2017

| Local government and community organizations will partner to reduce pollution in the Maumee River basin as part of receiving $367,438 in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Removing invasive honeysuckle on the St. Marys riverbank in Fort Wayne (Tri-State Watershed Alliance)

The Maumee River Basin: Urban Pollution Management and Education Program will focus on improving water quality in Fort Wayne, said a news release from the local Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council (NIRCC).

The GLRI was begun in 2010 protect and restore the Great Lakes, which are the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world, the news release said.

Fort Wayne is located where the St. Marys and St. Joseph rivers merge to form the Maumee River, which flows northeast to Toledo and empties into the western end of Lake Erie.

The Maumee River contributes a majority of the pollutants that feed algae blooms and other problems in western Lake Erie, the news release said, so this area needs to reduce the pollution entering the stream in the Fort Wayne area.

This year, a huge algae bloom again has filled most of the western basin of Lake Erie, stretching north to Canada, the Toledo Blade reported in late September. As of that time, however, concentrations of toxic algae had remained low.

Toledo was forced to shut down its drinking water system water intake on Lake Erie in August 2014 because of high levels of toxic algae in the lake water.

Local water-quality improvement projects planned with the GLRI funding include:

* Assist the city of Fort Wayne Public Works Division’s Greenways and Trails Department to install a pervious surface trailhead on Ludwig Road for the Summit Park Trail and Sidewalk project.

* Install bio-retention practices to capture storm water runoff from several new and existing impervious trails.

* Assist the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department with improving the aquatic habitat of Spy Run Creek near Franke Park in partnership with the Indiana Department of Natural Resource and other partners.

* Assist Fort Wayne Parks with construction of a large bioswale that will capture stormwater runoff at the new riverfront Promenade Park in downtown Fort Wayne.

* Assist Fort Wayne Parks with stream bank stabilization along the St. Marys River at Bloomingdale Park.

NIRCC estimates the projects each year will capture and prevent nearly 500,000 gallons of polluted storm water from running off land into the rivers, the news release said. The work also will reduce the amount of sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen, and bacteria being washed into the rivers.

GLRI funds also will be utilized to implement an extensive education and outreach program, the news release said.

The Allen County Partnership for Water Quality was hired to carry out a large portion of the education program, which will include informing people about what they can do to improve river water quality, the news release said.

In addition, GLRI funds will be used to create a Conservation Corps, in partnership with the Tri-State Watershed Alliance, to offer experiential learning opportunities and to help with water-quality work, the news release said.

(This story was posted by The News-Sentinel at http://www.news-sentinel.com/news/local-news/2017/10/10/federal-funds-to-pay-for-numerous-river-water-quality-improvement-projects-in-fort-wayne/)


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