Archive for the ‘View of Lake Michigan’ Category

View of Lake Michigan: Twilight on S. Route 41

February 2nd, 2010 No comments
Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan {Regional Rats}: Increased Industrial Demand

January 29th, 2010 1 comment

During these difficult economic times there are many losers, including our land, water, air, biology and the local population. This is especially amplified by the more than 40-years since the Industry’s fortunes where coupled with those of the community’s. The results of this decoupling can be horribly seen in the our cultural landscape of existing conditions,

This is what I see when I look at existing conditions and opportunities along the southern shores of Lake Michigan here in East Chicago. Below you will find someone else’s vision which is limited to reindustrialize our lakefront.

Existing Conditions:

  • A Gated Industrial Community
  • Arguably the most polluted waters in the country – the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC)
    • Joerse Beach: most contaminated beach in the Great Lakes and third most in the country.
  • Arguably the most polluted air-shed in the country – Lake county indiana ranking as the 9th most polluted air-shed in the country with the sources of pollution concentrated on East Chicago’s lakefront
  • >80% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated to heavy industry – ~50 of these industrial lands are out of productive use and considered contaminated, e.g., brownfields
    • 14% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated Residential – ~17% of these residential properties are apart of a superfund site.
  • Immediate access to the world’s greatest freshwater resource
  • Adjacent to Chicago
  • Diversified land-use and therefore a diversified water-use, air-shed use resulting in a diversified regional economy
And a Plan to address the impairments of existing conditions and realize the opportunities – The Marquette Plan.

In contrast this is what Bill Nagel of the NWI Times, the Forum, Nirpc, and to a real degree many of our environmental groups, such as Save the Dunes, Lee Botts founder of the Lake Michigan Federation, are promoting.

< How dare I include prominent environmentalist as obstacles to environmental, and economic progress>

via [ NWI Times ]

“Blast furnace restart could jump-start 750 jobs – MARKET DEMAND PROMPTS MITTAL TO FIRE UP INDIANA HARBOR WORKS NO. 4 FURNACE” by

Read more…

The Great Lakes: Water Levels on the Rise

December 28th, 2009 No comments

via [ AP ]

DETROIT — Water levels in the Great Lakes are continuing a two-year rebound.

The Detroit News reports today that the latest estimates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system and Lake Superior are between five inches and nine inches above levels from one year ago.

Statistics also show Lake St. Clair is one inch lower than last year, and Ontario is three inches lower.

Army Corps data indicates Lakes Ontario, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior ended November within inches of historical levels for this time of year. Lake St. Clair is slightly above its historical level.

The lakes had been declining for most of the past decade

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan: States sue to prevent spread of Asian carp

December 28th, 2009 No comments

via [ Journal Sentinel ]

Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to close shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery.

State Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit Monday with the nation’s highest court against Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan.

Bighead and silver carp from Asia have been detected in those waterways after migrating north in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades

via [ Chicago Public Radio ]

Ohio Endorses Lawsuit Against Illinois in Battle over Carp.

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

The Water I Drink: Trading on The Great Lakes Water Resources

December 28th, 2009 No comments

Quarterly average water bills for high-volume industrial customers:

  • Sheboygan: $37,119
  • Milwaukee: $41,151
  • St. Louis: $53,497
  • Green Bay: $64,086
  • Chicago: $65,800
  • Dallas: $79,512
  • Louisville: $80,087
  • Kansas City: $90,544
  • Philadelphia: $105,717
  • Denver: $110,717
  • New York: $115,528
  • Cleveland: $121,430
  • San Diego: $157,557
  • Pittsburgh: $172,367
  • Phoenix: $176,405
  • Seattle: $209,482
  • Atlanta: $251,984
  • Los Angeles: $274,000

Source: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

via [ Journal Sentinel ]

Milwaukee, which has a lackluster record in luring new industry with tax breaks or subsidies, has a new plan up its sleeve: giving deeply discounted water to new companies that create jobs.

At a time when regions such as metro Atlanta and the Southwest face acute water shortages, the Milwaukee Water Works operates at only a third of its capacity. And it draws off the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth of the world’s surface supply of freshwater.

That means the city, which operates the utility, can add new water customers at marginal cost – even if they guzzle prodigious volumes of water.

“This is our comparative advantage,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday at a conference on the economics of water at Marquette University. “We have to sell on our comparative advantage. We cannot sell our winter weather.”

“We would be the first city to offer water for jobs,” said Richard Meeusen, the chief executive of Badger Meter Inc., a Brown Deer-based maker of water meters.

Meeusen said Milwaukee should begin by poaching industries from metro Atlanta, which was regarded as an economic boomtown for the past two decades. Atlanta, which already faces water shortages, will confront even tougher challenges after a federal judge ruled in July that Atlanta must stop drawing water from its Lake Lanier reservoir within three years.

“Their taps are going to run dry in three years,” Meeusen told the conference. “We should be running full-page ads in the Atlanta papers, ‘Worried about Water?’

John Laumer of Treehugger offers a response Milwaukee’s plan for economic development.
via [ Treehugger ]

Although superficially, this may seem quite sensible, there is a high risk of unintended and unwanted consequences if a cheap water incentive were offered to all comers. The choice is one of seeking sustainable industry or returning to the Iron Age trade offs of environmental degradation and hidden impacts on taxpayers.

Strategic context.
Duluth, Green Bay, Escanaba, Marquette, Munising, Green Bay, Racine, Kenosha, Chicago, Toledo, Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and other Great Lakes cities all are capable of making a similar offer of cheap water for jobs. In that context, any well-led business would step back into due dillegence, looking for possible unintended consequence down the road.

High industrial water consumption brings other intensities.
Water-intensive industries very often also are energy intensive, and also tend to have high air and water pollution burdens. The much diminished paper and steel industries, once common in the Midwest, exemplify the pairing of water and energy intensities with water and air pollution.

For every gallon of water taken in by industry, there will be some fraction of a gallon discharged into public sewers: typically flowing into a publicly owned treatment works (POTW), constructed and operated at public expense.

Water supplies from Lake Michigan are, for local purposes, near infinite. On the other hand, both sewerage treatment capacity and ability of Lake Michigan to assimilate pollution are limited. Overuse can have hidden direct and indirect costs. Logical questions to precede any water sale to industry, then are:

is there excess treatment capacity at the sewerage treatment plant which matches the discharge potential of water intensive industries?

could waste water discharges from a single, new polluting industry potentially “limit out’ waste water treatment capacity, excluding other job opportunities?

is it possible to compare jobs creation potential per million gallons per day of wastewater discharged by industry sector?

A Cold View Of Lake Michigan:

December 11th, 2009 No comments

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan: At the Beach in November

November 28th, 2009 No comments
Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan: Workshop on Water

November 18th, 2009 No comments

Workshop: Communicating Watershed Concerns to an Urban John Q. Public

The workshop will be held at the Hammond Marina, 701 Casino Drive, Hammond.

I will be speaking at the workshop on Friday, November 20, discussing barriers to public access on our lakefront. I hope to post my presentation soon.

Speakers to include:

Dan Gardner:

Biographical Information: Dan Gardner directs the water quality enforcement program in Lake County. As director, he oversees a $700,000 program, mandated by the federal Clean Water Act, to clean county rivers and lakes of eroded soil and other pollutants. Previously, he served as executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.

Dr. Kenneth J. Schoon:

A Geological Perspective of the Calumet Rivers: The routes of the three Calumet Rivers are the result of the glacial, lacustrine, and human histories of the area. The glaciers set the stage, the waves of Lake Michigan altered the landscape and determined the original routes of the Calumet Rivers, and human intervention has made additional alterations. Human actions sometimes have unintended consequences.

Biographical Information: Dr. Schoon is a professor of science education at IU Northwest and teaches the methods of teaching science to preservice teachers. He has an A.B. in geology and an M.S. in secondary education both from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago. Since January of 1999 he has served the School of Education as Associate Dean.

After 22 years experience teaching middle and high school science, in 1990 Dr. Schoon joined IU Northwest’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). Two years later he became the science-education faculty member for the School of Education.

Dr. Schoon’s research interests center around local studies and misconceptions in science. He serves on the coordinating committee for Science Olympiad, He is a part president of the board of the Dunes Learning Center.

Dr. Schoon’s book, Calumet Beginnings, was released in October of 2003 and is now in its 5th printing. A tree identification book focusing on Midwestern urban trees should be released next year.

George Roadcap:

Biographical Information: Dr. Roadcap is a hydrologist with the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL. His research in the Calumet region dates to 1996 with the diagnostic-feasibility study of Wolf Lake and Lake George. This was followed by an assessment of the hydrology and water quality at Indian Ridge Marsh and the potential effects of wetland rehabilitation in 1999. His research includes projects in Kane, Will, McLean, and Tazewell counties in Illinois.

Nicole Kamins:

A brief PowerPoint presentation describes the Hegewisch Marsh water control structure project.

Biographical Information: Nicole Kamins is a Program Director with the City of Chicago Department of Environment. For more than ten years, she has advanced the Calumet Initiative, an effort to revitalize open space on the Southeast Side. In that time she has helped to secure over $3 million dollars in grant funding for ecological restoration, stewardship, and research for Calumet. Nicole earned her B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her M.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.

George Van Til:

In the State of Indiana, County Surveyors are responsible for some aspects of the care and maintenance of creeks and ditches that are considered county regulated or “legal” drains, as part of the state’s patchwork quilt of drainage laws and regulations.

Biographical Information: Van Til has been dealing with these issues during his 17 years as Lake County Surveyor as he stressed coordination, intergovernmental cooperation and planning for flood and pollution control, while working in tandem with the County Commissioners on the Drainage Board.

Before this he was involved in drainage concerns for 8 years on the Highland Town Council on its Flood Control Committee and for 2 years on the County Council as Chairman of the Council’s Drainage Board and Surveyor’s Committee.

During his service in this office he missed only 1 public meeting in nearly 28 years while developing many projects and unheralded improvements. Van Til has been heavily involved for many years in many civic, charitable and environmental organizations and efforts, as well as AWLI.

Kathy Luther:

Tom McDermott Jr., Mayor of Hammond:

Rory Robinson:

In 2000, the National Park Service (NPS) took the lead in facilitating a public process that involved nearly 150 participants that developed a shared vision for the future planning protection and development significant natural and recreation resources of Wolf Lake. Many of the goals and actions defined jointly during this process have been implemented, many more not. Rory Robinson of the National Park Service will look back at this effort and forward at what can be done to complete this vision.

Biographical Information: Rory L. Robinson, During his thirty year career with the National Park Service, Rory has worked in five different NPS units primarily in the fields of interpretation and cultural resources management. For the past 15 years, Rory has worked in the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program where he has provided assistance to the Ohio and Erie Canal, Maumee Valley, and Wabash River Heritage Corridors. He has been involved in trails planning efforts throughout Indiana and Ohio, and worked on river and watershed projects along the Little Miami, Wabash and Blue Rivers.

In 2006 Rory received the Mike Carroll Award for Distinguished Leadership by a Professional Planner by the Indiana Planning Association. He provided leadership in the nationwide Towpaths-to-Trails Initiative with the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy, and the revitalization of the National Recreation Trails program. A native of Northeast Ohio, Rory holds a BS in Parks and Recreation Management and Environmental Interpretation from The Ohio State University. Phone: 330-657-2950, E-mail:

Pete Visclosky:

Biographical Information: A lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana, Pete Visclosky represents Indiana’s First Congressional District, which includes Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Benton Counties. A member of the Appropriations Committee, Visclosky serves as the Chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee. He also serves on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and is the chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus.

Through his position as Chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Pete has worked in a bi-partisan fashion to boost research and development funding for alternative energy sources and new conservation initiatives. Working with Senator Richard Lugar, Visclosky was also able to secure $9.5 million for the construction of a bio-mass ethanol plant in Indiana’s First Congressional District.

In addition to supporting steel and manufacturing jobs in Northwest Indiana, Visclosky has been a leading advocate for major economic development projects throughout the area, including the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana and the Marquette Plan, Pete’s strategy to invest in Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Additionally, Visclosky has supported local infrastructure projects that will help build a new economy in Northwest Indiana, such as the South Shore Rail Line and the Gary/Chicago Airport.

Pete was born in Gary and graduated from Andrean High School in Merrillville, He earned a B.S. degree in Accounting from Indiana University Northwest, a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1973, and a Masters degree in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University.

Mike Molnar:

The purpose of the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program is to enhance the State’s role in planning for and managing natural and cultural resources in the coastal region and to support partnerships between federal, state and local agencies and organizations. The Program provides financial and technical assistance to state, local and regional government and NGOs to protect, preserve and properly manage coastal resources. This presentation provides an overview of the opportunities available for resource management under the Coastal Program.

Biographical Information: Mike Molnar is the manager of the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and has served in that capacity for six and a half years. Born and raised along the shores of Lake Erie, Mike learned first-hand the environmental impacts of pollution on the Great Lakes and how combined efforts can result in success. He developed a lifelong love and appreciation of the Great Lakes through many fishing and camping trips with his family as a child. Molnar is a graduate of Miami University of Oxford, Ohio and Indiana University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological science and a master’s degree in public administration from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He is a firm believer that through accountable and efficient planning, practice and stewardship we can make a difference.

Rod Sellers:

The Bi-State Calumet through the Years. A century ago Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Chicago did not stop at the state line, but continued across the Calumet region to Michigan City. Maps used by early settlers followed Native American trails along ridge lines and early planners followed these trails that had evolved into roads and waterways or rail lines with little regard for state boundaries, much less those of counties, townships, villages and cities.

Biography: Rod Sellers taught American History, Chicago History, and Law at Bowen High School and Washington High School in Chicago. He is retired after a 34 year career with the Chicago Public Schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in Urban Studies, and a master’s degree in Public Service, both from Governors State University.

Rod has a special interest in local history and volunteers at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. The museum has a collection of thousands of photographs, slides, and negatives, as well as artifacts and documents related to family and community history. Rod has worked extensively with the Southeast Chicago Historical Project Collection since its acquisition by the Southeast Chicago Historical Society. He is the co-author of Chicago’s Southeast Side, a pictorial history of the community and is the author of Chicago’s Southeast Side Revisited both published by Arcadia Publishing.

Thomas Frank:

A brief discussion on the barriers to access in our older urban industrial communities along our southern shores of Lake Michigan.

Biographical Information: A fairly recent settler to East Chicago, Thomas has a long family history with the Chicago region. In recent years he has worked to address the concerns of the older urban industrial communities along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, while pursuing a masters degree in urban planning at University of Illinois Chicago. He served as President of the East Chicago Redevelopment Commission. Participated in regional planning initiatives. Initiated a comprehensive plan for the City of East Chicago, and served as Director of the East Chicago Waterway Management District with the responsibilities to envision a waterway that meets the environmental, demographic and economic needs of the coming decades. He is also a past director of the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative.

He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1987 with a degree in Painting, Philosophy, and a concentration in Languages (French and Russian), and studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1993 He graduated from Indiana University with an MFA in Painting.

He spent the next decade working in Medical Education where he secured funding from the Washington Post to launch, the leading online learning community for medical students and professionals around the world. He is presently pursuing a career as an artist and maintaining a blog at:

John Pope:

Biographical Information: Alderman John Pope is a lifelong resident of Chicago’s 10th Ward which is located on the far southeast side of the City. The captain of Mount Carmel’s football team, Pope then attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana where he was a member of the Student Council, played football, and obtained a degree in economics.

He worked as an analyst in the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management for 3 years and later served in the City’s Building Department as Director of Demolition. Pope then served as an assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and was involved with neighborhood improvement and infrastructure programs.

Pope became Alderman of the 10th Ward on May 3, 1999 when he was sworn in at the City of Chicago’s City Council meeting. John was re-elected for his second term on February 25, 2003.Pope sits on various City Council committees including: Economic & Capital Development, Special Events where he serves as the Co-Chair, Housing & Real Estate, Energy, Environmental Protection & Public Utilities, and Police & Fire, and Buildings.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Indiana Lake Management Society and the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative. For further information on the workshop, call 219 933-7149 or 312-220-0120.

View of Lake Michigan: Portage Lakefront

August 27th, 2009 1 comment

Portage Lakefront Pavilion

This is a story about the good, and a lot of tough love between communities.

To date the Portage lakefront is the only location where progress toward realizing the Marquette Plan is visible, and there are significant reasons why this is the case. The predominant reason is that Portage is a solidly white middle-class suburban community with middle-class values and an intact civil society. That is not the case with East Chicago or Gary. The Marquette Plan comes out of middle-class desires to access and utilize the commons on our lakefront.

Portage Lakefront Plan seen in context of the Marquette Plan

[ Summary presentation of the Marquette Plan – pdf]

<Quick History Lesson>

Unlike Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago and Gary, Portage’s industrial history only goes back to 1959 when National Steel opened a plant along Lake Michigan on the very site where the new Portage Lakefront Park now resides. In 1961 the Port of Indiana at Burns harbor, a deep water port, was opened. And in 1963 Bethlehem Steel Company started construction on their large integrated steel facility.

This eastern expansion of heavy industry along Lake Michigan’s southern shores prompted Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in an effort to preserve portions of Indiana’s natural shoreline, including its biodiversity, and unique landscape left thousands of years ago by the receding glaciers of the ice age.

In a few short years Portage went from a farming community with ancient dunes and swales and an expansive lakefront to an industrial community with no lakefront access. While Gary experienced a hollowing-out of its neighborhoods due to “White Flight” and massive disinvestment by Industry, Gary’s new neighbor, Portage was a fast expanding brand new, and mostly white, industrial community. Today, Portage has an estimated population of 36,000, the largest city in Porter County and the third largest in Northwest Indiana, behind Gary and Hammond. Portage is still mostly white with 92% white, ~8% hispanic, and <.2% black. Like most developments during this era Portage was designed on a suburban pattern model.

</Quick History Lesson>

Building Success:

Portage’s civic leaders not only adopted the Marquette Plan immediately, they expanded on it with their City’s Northside Master Plan. Of the five lakefront communities included in Phase I of the Marquette Plan, Portage is the only community to take advantage of JJR’s (award winning) work. You can see from the diagrams below how Portage has benefitted from a consistent visioning and planning process. Like East Chicago, Portage suffers from very little public access to the lake, and yet they propose to gain additional access by recovering existing brownfields along its waterway – the same strategy proposed in the Marquette Plan for East Chicago. You can see from these plans how Portage is looking to maximize what little they have by leveraging its waterways and River front. Clearly they have a long way to go, and not all the solutions are the most ideal, but this is a very good beginning. It is a testament to what can be done.

Marquette Subarea Conceptual Plan for Portage Lakefront Portage Master Plan for Lakefront and Riverfront

In contrast to Portage, East Chicago has traded against the plan for a private development along the lakefront for one of the Mayor’s largest fundraisers (a family member was chief of staff and is now chief of police) and branded it as the Marquette Plan with no public input. The Mayor’s plan completely abandons the Marquette Plan which, like Portage, aimed to recover abandoned brownfields along its waterway – The Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal. Both the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) and the Regional Development Authority (RDA) have not only allowed this to occur without objection, but are encouraging and funding it. I will leave this story for another post.

It is important not to down play Portage’s regional identity as a white community as a contributing factor for its success. Unfortunately, “white” is still an important factor in identity politics in this challenged region. I don’t mean in any way to take away from the hard work that went into Portage’s successes, but to clarify the impediments the other communities face. It is just as important to acknowledge Portages ability to pull together a professional staff capable of realizing opportunities, attracting investment dollars, managing resources, and implementing solutions. And this is exactly why Portage poses a formidable challenge for the highly blighted older minority and urban communities along the lake. Because the leaders of Portage are more capable of forging the right relationships to produce results through an efficient process they are afforded more opportunities. Portage isn’t sitting still, in fact, they have begun to cherry pick opportunities slated for the other shoreline communities.

As an advocate for the older urban Lakefront communities, which dominate the Southern Shores of Lake Michigan, there is a part of me that is insulted that this project spearheads the redevelopment efforts as envisioned in the Marquette Plan. There is also a reality that money’s from the other minority communities, through the RDA, help finance this project. Now that Portage has completed this catalytic project, and jump-started its market by bringing valuable brownfields into productive common recreation use, Portage is set to realize its broader vision. Unfortunately, now that they have realized all this they no longer have a need to contribute to the RDA.

What Portage is able to realize is exactly what we had hope would happen when we first set out to develop the Marquette Plan. That is why we developed catalytic projects in each of our urban lakefront communities. The blighted conditions that remain in East Chicago and Gary are waiting for someone to implement their catalytic project as outlined in the Marquette Plan.

While regional entities praise the Portage project for reclaiming valuable though contaminated lakefront property, they also sight contamination as an impediment to redevelopment in my community. When it comes to redeveloping the Brownfields in East Chicago, all too often we are treated as if East Chicago were Chernobyl. If East Chicago is Chernobyl, and I am serious about this, then the USEPA ought to make this perfectly clear so we can begin abandon our properties and all our industrial facilities. If East Chicago is not Chernobyl then lets get to work and stop avoiding the impediments to change.

With the Portage project success has been gained, but now we need greater success.

This past spring we went out to Portage to take a look at the new lakefront park. Finding the entrance and then realizing that it was the entrance was just plain weird to say the least. It required entering and traversing a poorly marked U.S. Steel facility adjacent and across the river from the park. I suspect this was only a temporary solution, at least until they can construct a more formal and appropriate entrance. The most striking feature of the park besides the feeling of trespassing on industrial property when you enter is the pavilion. The Pavilion provides a very strong silhouette dominating the site and the visual field. By its design it begins to inform your experience in this rather strange setting.

<Recommended Video>

The NWI Times posted a wonderful video introducing the new lakefront and laying out the awesomeness of its achievement:

Former Portage Mayor Doug Olson and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Costa

Marquette Plan – Portage Lakefront ]

</Recommended Video>

<Build it and they will come>

via the [ Post-Tribune ] August 27, 2009

Portage lakefront draws crowd :: Porter County :: Post-Tribune.

</Build it and they will come>

View of Lake Michigan: wbew Chicago Public Radio

August 27th, 2009 No comments

Below is a short Interview I did with wbew Chicago Public Radio out of Chesterton Indiana about the Marquette Plan and the challenges we face envisioning diverse uses on our lakefront.

View of Lake Michigan: Warren Dunes Beach, Michigan

August 4th, 2009 No comments

[ Michigan Beach Monitoring System ]

With temperatures above 80 degrees we are back to the beach. This time getting away from the industrial and polluted Lakefront of Indiana and to the Warren Dunes Beach in Michigan. We generally make it out to the Michigan beaches three or four times a year and we have never been disappointed. Although the water conditions on the Lake Michigan shores are good I can’t say the same about Michigan’s Lake Huron Shores. Contamination levels there remind me of Indiana. 


To view our experience at Indiana’s beaches go to [ View of Lake Michigan: Beach Closings ]

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan :: Beach Closings

August 1st, 2009 4 comments

data source: [ Indiana BeachGuard System ]

For the past seven summers our family has been going to Whilhala beach in Whiting for an evening walk or a swim. This summer we got a pool and the weather has been too cool so we haven’t gone until Tuesday. On Tuesday the kids and I decided to go for a nice end of the day swim in the lake after swimming all day in the pool. When we got to the beach we found they had changed their policies and closed the beach area at 6 pm. We couldn’t even take a walk. The kids were disappointed, not only could they not go swimming that evening, but something they have always taken for granted suddenly came to an end. My answer to their cries at that moment was to agree with them – it wasn’t right and I didn’t understand why they closed the beach, but to make it up to them I promised to take them to Indiana Dunes the next day – Thursday.

Map of the Region

Later that evening I found this article in the NWTimes “Vandalism prompts partial closing of Whihala Beach

photo source: John Luke, the Times

Increased gang activity has forced the county to close the Hammond side of Whihala Beach until further notice, a Lake County parks official said Tuesday.

The following day the kids and I got up and prepared for a day at the Dunes. When we got to the park, they were eager to get into the water. I slowed them down a bit by diverting their attention to hiking first.

This is perhaps my favorite view of Lake Michigan from its southern shores. From here you can imagine the beauty that once was throughout this spectacular region.

Once the kids made their way to the beach they were in the water immediately. Unfortunately, it was no more than 5 minutes later that a voice announced that all swimmers had to come out of the water – the water was too polluted for their safety. I could see the frustration race across Marta’s face. Moments before this video she was in tears.

I could not be more disappointed in my community leaders. I am tired of fighting to stop them from ignoring the problems, problems for which they are directly responsible and from which they benefit.

When we got home I realized I had forgotten to ask for a refund, and I found this frontpage article in the Post -Tribune “Local beaches perform poorly in water tests

The Testing the Waters report, released Wednesday by the National Resources Defense Council, shows that beaches in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties had advisories for bacteria or were closed because of bacteria 333 times in 2008, a 56 percent increase from the 213 events in 2007.

That’s up from 111 advisories and closings in 2006.

Overall, 18 percent of the beach samples taken in Indiana last year had bacteria levels higher than the recommended levels. That put the state 28th of the 32 states tested. The report includes samples from any coastal, bay or Great Lakes state.

And then there was this little nugget from Tom Anderson the Director of the Safe the Dunes Council.

Anderson said not knowing the source of the pollutants makes it hard for local officials and groups to fight the problem.

“It’s like where should we focus something if we don’t know where it’s coming from?” Anderson said.

He called for source testing to be included in the study, but that has its own problems. The federal act that requires the testing does not provide funding for source testing, said Amber Finkelstein, a public information officer for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Low-cost solutions for bringing down bacteria levels are available, however, Anderson said. He pointed to Michigan City, which recently prohibited people from feeding birds and bought lids for garbage cans.

<Public Disclosure>

It might be prudent here to mention that “Save the Dunes” recently received a large grant from BP. Oh, and may be I ought to mention that Tom Anderson serves on the Indiana Air pollution Control Board. The same board that recently re-designated Northwest Indiana from a Non-attainment zone to an attainment zone for Sulfur Dioxide. It may also be important to know that BP is presently retooling its Whiting refinery to process the high sulfur product coming out of the Alberta Tar Sands. Anyhow, I always thought Tom meant well.

</Public Disclosure>

Knowing that the water current flows counter clockwise in Lake Michigan, it is not hard to imagine who the source could be, especially with such acutely high levels of bacteria over 600/100ml.

Two views of Burns Harbor: 1) Looking west from the Indiana Dunes State Park, and 2) satellite image

Then there is this very glaring problem. I suppose most communities would have dealt with this in a previous era. Yes that is a known contaminated creek flushing right into the middle of the state beach. When it reaches the lake IDEM expects that “Dilution will be the Solution” to keep bathers safe. We wouldn’t have it any other way in Northwest Indiana. Do you suppose this could have a negative effect on tourism?

Via Save the Dunes [ Dunes Creek Watershed ]

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report “Testing the Waters 2009” tends to take a national perspective when it comes to the problem of identifying the main sources of pollution causing the beach closings. Nationally “Runoff” accounts for 36% of the sources of pollution, with 62% as unknown. However, in Indiana 99% of the source of contamination is considered “unknown.” In my mind this is a criminal disregard for the health of the public.  The same “unknown” used to defend the largest landowners with the greatest intensive uses on Indiana’s Urban Lake Front.

More than 90% of our urban Lakefront is owned by three large industries; BP Whiting – the largest oil refinery in the Midwest, Arcelormittal – the largest integrated Steel Mill in the Country, and U.S. Steel – the second largest Steel Mill. Additionally the big three own the majority rights to our air and watersheds. If there is a major environmental problem, you can generally point to them as the source. They are also effective at using the marginal effects of non-point source pollution such as surface runoff and vehicular pollution to offset criticisms of their discharges. IDEM repeats these same constructed arguments. Granted runoff is a large contributor to the problem, but we also know from whom the contaminants are running.

View of Shoreline Industries from the breakwall at the Hammond Marina

IDEM regulates both industrial and municipal discharges. The cities are not with out fault. They have yet to separate storm water from their sewage systems which contributes to the surface runoff problem. To know the source is easy, to not – is to ignore the problem.

It doesn’t hurt industries interests that the Commissioner of IDEM is Tom Easterly, the environmental Director for Bethlehem Steel (now owned by ArcelorMittal) and Nisource, and who once told a table of Great Lake Commissioners over lunch that:


“there is no need for recreation or commercial fishing in the Great Lakes because there were never any natural fisheries here. The Great Lakes are no better than stocked ponds.”


With one of the highest concentrations of heavy industries in the country, It follows that Indiana’s urban Lake front would also see some of the highest levels of pollution. And in fact the data bares this out. Not only do we know that the indiana Harbor Shipping Canal is the most polluted waterway in the country, but according to the NRDC Study “Testing the Waters 2008” East Chicago’s Jeorse Park Beach ranks third in the nation, and first in Great Lakes, for exceeding Daily National Standards. The geographical center of BP, Mittal and US Steel is East Chicago’s Joerse Park Beach. This make Joerse Park Beach ground zero for some of the highest levels of pollutants in beach waters in the country.

<Clearing the Waters>

The source of pollution is ignorance and we know who the agents of ignorance are. They are self interested community and industrial leaders, who like to pretend that the problems stem from decisions made by “the public.” The source of our pollution is the same as the source of our public corruption. They go hand in hand. The only difference is that the private actors in this dance do not go to jail.

</Clearing the Waters>

– Now, off to the Michigan Dunes

Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal: Measured, Characterized, Not Clean

April 21st, 2009 No comments

View of Lake Michigan: from Route 41

March 16th, 2009 No comments

Traveling on route 41 south of Jackson Park, Chicago; 03-13-09.

This is what Lakeshore drive turns into south of Hyde Park. What a trip it can be.

view [ The Ride to School on Route 41 ]

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan

February 28th, 2009 5 comments

Jackson Park Beach: 01.27.09 2 pm

Jackson Park Beach: 01.27.09 2 pm

Jackson Park Beach: 01.27.09 2 pm

Jackson Park Beach: 01.27.09 2 pm

Jackson Park Beach: 01.27.09 2 pm

From my car on the way to the galleries.

Categories: View of Lake Michigan