GUEST COMMENTARY: 2011 was good year environmentally

2012-02-19T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: 2011 was good year environmentallyBy Kay Nelson nwitimes.com
February 19, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Last year was a very good year environmentally for Northwest Indiana. Not the opening line you expected? Let's take a trip down memory lane.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated Northwest Indiana in attainment for air quality for particulate matter in 2011. Residents and industries have worked hard to earn the status. Going forward, air quality protective limits will continue to become more stringent on a national level, but for now we can take pride in this accomplishment.

Did you know that through the efforts of Dan Plath and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, we have a new national treasure? In June, the Department of the Interior announced that the first 75 miles of a shoreline recreational water trail around Lake Michigan would begin with the Indiana portion of Lake Michigan.

The association worked diligently with lakeshore property owners and industries to launch the Lake Michigan Water Trail.

As important as the shoreline access is for safety and recreational purposes, the concept required excellent water quality. The water trail designation is a tribute to the successful operation of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants and the continuing restoration and remediation activities of private and public entities along the Grand Calumet River, Little Calumet River and Lake Michigan.

Northwest Indiana hosted many national leaders in 2011 on a variety of topics, including the environment. Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator at the EPA in Washington, D.C., for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, enjoyed an afternoon in Marquette Park. A group of Northwest Indiana regional environmental leaders had the opportunity to discuss brownfield redevelopment opportunities in Gary and the region as a whole with Stanislaus.

It was wonderful to hear the U.S. EPA Region V staff share their positive observations about the partnerships in Northwest Indiana working to make progress at all levels.

The last example of excitement I want to share relates to a long-term project initiated by Lee Botts. After dedicating so many years to environmental improvements and education, Botts has begun documenting our successes on film.

If you have been around Botts, you have heard her say how important it is to reach out and teach people beyond Northwest Indiana about our unique private/public partnerships that have resulted in our continuing environmental improvements. More will be coming in future articles about this exciting documentary. Lee intends for the red carpet release in 2016.

So as you can see from these few examples, 2011 was a good year environmentally. I can't wait to see what this year brings to all of us.

Kay Nelson is director of environmental affairs for the Northwest Indiana Forum. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's.

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