Residents can be "cautiously optimistic" about the region's environmental progress of the last decade, but more should be done to ensure further improvements, according to the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators Report.
The report showed environmental indicators remained steady from 2000 to 2010. Air quality and environmental remediation improved while solid waste disposal, land restoration and water quality remained steady.
Beach closures were the only environmental indicator that worsened over the decade, with closings rising 28 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Findings of the report indicate issues such as transportation, land use, population distribution, public health, education, workforce development, government and recreation must all be part of environmental planning discussions.
The work often requires substantial investments. With funding scarce, the report recommends increased efforts for green infrastructure and ecosystem services that provide cost-savings and greater environmental and health benefits.
Partnerships among business, government and nonprofits are more evident and, according to the report, need to continue to increase sustainability.
The report recommends forming a combined-sewer overflow task force and creating a sustainability roundtable to work with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission as it implements its 2040 plan.