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What is nonpoint source pollution?

The Mishawaka community is growing and prospering. Many land use changes are part of this growth. With growth comes the responsibility for careful planning and proactive measures to ensure that progress does not come at the cost of our natural resources.

In urban areas, hard surfaces, such as roads, bridges, parking lots, and buildings prohibit rainwater and snowmelt from slowly filtering into the ground. Instead, this runoff, which picks up pollutants along the way, is channeled into the storm sewer system. Runoff from construction sites, if not controlled, can pick up pollutants and soil from the disturbed areas, carrying them downstream into receiving streams. This type of widespread pollution, called nonpoint source pollution , flows untreated into local waterways.

Water quality and the St. Joseph River

Water quality and the St. Joseph RiverThe St. Joseph River is a major waterway, its course winding for more than 200 miles in northern Indiana and southern Michigan before emptying into Lake Michigan . Polluted runoff from municipalities, agriculture, forestry, and construction causes physical changes to the river’s channel, harms fish and wildlife populations, kills native vegetation, fouls drinking water supplies, and can impair recreational uses.

You can make a difference

Residential and commercial construction sites are the leading cause of soil erosion and sediment runoff in urban areas. During periods of rainfall and snowmelt, improperly managed construction sites contribute more sediment to rivers and streams than would be deposited naturally. Pollutants often found in construction site runoff include sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum products, construction chemicals, contaminated soils, paints, debris, and sanitary waste s. Contractors and their crews are required to minimize the amount of pollutants that enter our waterways by implementing erosion control measures during construction. Post construction erosion control measures are also a requirement of the MS4 rules.

Ask questions first

Ask questions first The Mishawaka Department of Planning has informational materials to help contractors incorporate erosion control and stormwater management plans into their projects. The department also works with contractors and developers to make sure they have obtained the proper permits for residential and commercial construction and are in compliance with MS4 regulations. For more information, contact the Planning Department at 574.258.1625 or e-mail the Planning Department through the City’s website at

Implement erosion control practices

Implement erosion control practicesErosion and sediment control plans are required before construction starts. Plans should include soil stabilization measures, perimeter controls and runoff treatment practices that will be implemented and maintained before and during construction activities. Plans should:

  • Minimize clearing during construction
  • Stabilize extreme slopes
  • Protect waterways and stabilize drainageways
  • Phase construction to limit soil exposure
  • Temporarily seed disturbed soils as soon as possible
  • Prepare entrances/exits with materials that reduce tracking soils off site
  • Install perimeter controls to filter sediments
  • Keep sites clean by properly disposing of trash and litter

Put together a post-construction plan

Put together a post-construction planWhat happens after construction is complete is as important as what happens during construction. Runoff from areas of new development or redevelopment significantly affects receiving waterways. Post-construction control measures should:

  • Comply with engineering plans
  • Implement practices to prevent, reduce, or treat stormwater runoff
  • Establish storage or detention controls to collect stormwater
  • Incorporate vegetation

Get involved

You can help protect local waterways and keep Mishawaka a clean environment in which to work and live by volunteering for community projects.

  • Participate in local meetings to help develop cleanup strategies
  • Volunteer for river and stream cleanup groups
  • Help restoration efforts by planting trees