Nature-based Infrastructure

Reduces Runoff

Installing nature-based infrastructure at three sites in Hobart, Ind., is preventing at least 800,000 gallons of polluted stormwater runoff from flowing into Lake Michigan, as well as raising awareness about stormwater issues.


The city of Hobart is located at the confluence of several rivers and creeks, where multiple tributaries connect with Deep River. While these waterways provide Hobart with an abundance of natural resources and wetlands, they are also conduits for polluted urban stormwater to enter the Deep River watershed and ultimately into Lake Michigan. Thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Delta Institute partnered with the city of Hobart to implement three projects that will decrease stormwater runoff and improve the quality of life in the community. These projects were installed in three publicly-owned sites upstream of the Deep River to prevent polluted runoff from traveling further downstream.

At Hillman Park, workers transformed an existing drainage ditch between two baseball fields into a hybrid ditch and bioswale—natural, sloped features with plants that are designed to trap pollutants and runoff. Workers also removed invasive plants from the area and replaced them with native prairie plants. At Hobart Middle School, workers installed a rain garden in a concrete courtyard that was previously underutilized by students and teachers, along with sitting areas and educational signs that explain how rain gardens work. And at City Hall, workers installed additional rain gardens, stormwater planters, and permeable pavement that allows rain to infiltrate into the ground, rather than collecting on paved surfaces and becoming stormwater runoff. The Delta Institute completed primary construction in 2018, and is currently developing strategies to monitor the performance of these natural infrastructure installations.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Stormwater runoff
  • Urban pollution
  • Low water quality
  • Lack of green infrastructure


New permeable pavement is installed

Workers install a rain garden and permeable pavement outside of Hobart City Hall. These projects will collect and filter rain water during storms, reducing polluted runoff into Lake Michigan. Credit: Delta Institute.

Results and Accomplishments

These projects are expected to prevent at least 800,000 gallons of polluted runoff from entering Lake Michigan annually. The three project sites are all on public property in high-profile locations, beautifying the city and spreading awareness about stormwater management through nature-based infrastructure. In particular, the rain garden installed at the middle school provides a lot of educational opportunities for students. The school is already working on incorporating this space into science classes and environmental education programs.