For the last six months, Save the Dunes has been working on a project called the Northwest Indiana Onsite Waste Management Education Program. The purpose of the program was to educate decision makers, homeowners, onsite wastewater treatment system professionals, and realtors on proper actions to take in maintaining a healthy septic system and by doing this, maintaining a healthy Lake Michigan ecosystem.
Save the Dunes received funding from the Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program to develop outreach materials to remind and educate Northwest Indiana audiences of the importance of having household septic system pumped and inspected regularly– every 3-5 years. The final grant products included: outreach action items, templates with graphics designed specifically for this region, and a guide on the developed tools. Short educational videos were produced to compliment the outreach toolkit. Furthermore, Save the Dunes partnered with local and State health department(s) to offer certification through Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association, Inc. (IOWPA), to wastewater professionals in Northwest Indiana. Almost half of Indiana’s county health departments have adopted the IOWPA certification in place of individual county testing. This project also supported a realtor training in partnership with the Greater Northwest Indiana Realtors Association (GNIAR).
Save the Dunes partnered with Urban Waters Federal Partnership in piloting a signage campaign in two local Northwest Indiana communities- Trail Creek and Miller. The campaign ran through three weeks of June 2017 with much success. Using the products developed by Safari Marketing and a very active coalition of partners, the Septic System Coordinated Work Group, Save the Dunes presented to the Miller neighborhood and the Town of Trail Creek offering the opportunity for local residents to show through signage that they are a “good neighbor” and have had their septic system inspected and pumped within the last 3-5 years.
Through presentations, signage campaigns, and outreach events, we at Save the Dunes feel we’ve made a difference in educating Northwest Indiana communities and professionals on septic system maintenance so as to have a cleaner environment and a healthy Lake Michigan. We encourage everyone to go look at the work products at www.in.gov/dnr/lakemich to learn more about what you can to do maintain your household septic system.
Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program for providing grant funding.