Wetland Restoration

Reduces Stormwater Runoff,

Improves Water Quality

Restoring 9 acres of wetlands in Michigan City, Ind., is preventing 37.5 million gallons of polluted urban runoff from flowing into a local creek and ultimately, Lake Michigan.


The Trail Creek watershed, which comprises Michigan City, Ind., drains a 59 square mile area into Lake Michigan. Trail Creek is a vital habitat for a variety of fish and other wildlife in the region. Unfortunately, when it rains, a significant portion of Michigan City’s urban stormwater empties into Trail Creek, carrying sediment, oil, grease, and other pollution from surface streets, construction sites, and industry. This has a negative impact on the water quality of the creek—and on the fish and wildlife habitat that the creek provides—as well as on the water quality of Lake Michigan.

Thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and additional funding from the National Fish & Wildlife Fund and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 9.4 acres of wetland are being restored. The wetlands are helping capture and manage 37.5 million gallons of stormwater annually, reducing the amount of pollutants such as sediment, E. coli and nutrients that enter Trail Creek and, ultimately, Lake Michigan.

The improved water quality and habitat in Trail Creek that results from this project is critical  for protecting Michigan City’s famous salmon and steelhead trout runs.

The wetland restoration project will also remove harmful phragmites, an invasive reed that can negatively affect the biodiversity and ecological functions of  native habitats, impair the recreational use of wetlands and shorelines, decrease property values, and increase fire risk.

“This project will do more than clean up storm water,” said Ethan Brown, community planning manager at Alliance for the Great Lakes. “It will give Michigan City residents new recreational opportunities and protect the salmon and trout runs that are an important part of the city’s tourism industry.”

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Urban Runoff
  • Habitat degradation
  • Invasive species


This stretch of Trail Creek will be restored thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, reducing the amount of stormwater discharged into it. Photo Credit: Delta Institute

Results and Accomplishments

The wetland habitat is preventing 37.5 million gallons of urban runoff from being discharged into Lake Michigan annually. Fish and wildlife habitat will be restored, and invasive  phragmites will be abated.