Restoring The Duck Creek Tributary In Northwest Indiana

Delta Institute is restoring a key waterway in Hobart, Indiana, that flows throughout the entire watershed and ultimately into Lake Michigan. Currently the waterway, the Duck Creek Tributary, overflows with pollution, sediment, and toxins—impacting the water quality downstream for many communities, including multiple that are designated Environmental Justice (EJ) communities.


Why Our Work is Needed Today

The Duck Creek Tributary in Hobart, Indiana is part of the Deep River-Portage Burns Waterway Watershed, which flows into the Little Calumet River and ultimately into Lake Michigan. The extensive flooding along the Tributary causes significant water quality issues due to sediment, agricultural, and nutrient runoff. Streambank restoration along this segment of the Duck Creek Tributary will reduce flooding, improve water quality, restore natural habitat and ultimately contribute to improved conditions for wildlife, recreation, and communities throughout the watershed in Northwest Indiana.

Our restoration efforts directly align with identified issues per local-, watershed- and regional plans. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan and 2020 Indiana State Forest Action Plan calls for restoring forests in riparian areas and asserts a forested buffer around perennial watercourses improves water quality, wildlife habitat and protects soil resources by buffering runoff and improving infiltration/water quality. The need for these improvements to the water quality and streambank habitat in the Tributary to Duck Creek is a component of the Deep River Portage Burns Waterway Watershed Management Plan. Delta always ties our programmatic efforts into existing plans.


Brief Overview of What We’re Doing

Delta Institute is assisting the City of Hobart and the Hobart Sanitary District (HSD) to implement streambank stabilization and restoration, and to install a riparian buffer that improves permeability and infiltration along the Tributary corridor within two distinct phases of work. Due to these pressing needs, Delta Institute, in partnership with HSD, is undertaking riparian restoration of the Duck Creek Tributary, with key objectives including (1) streambank stabilization and restoration work and (2) the installation of a riparian buffer along two 0.2 mile segments and one 0.1 mile upstream segment of the Tributary, totaling 0.5 miles of restoration across two distinct phases of work.

The first phase was completed in Summer 2023, and exceeded key metrics—including capturing 50% more stormwater gallons and more than 20 times more sediment than previously forecasted via restoration on 3.7 acres of riparian corridor with 1,100 linear feet of perennial stream. For the second phase of work ongoing from 2023-2025, Delta is providing project management and oversight, and is supporting procuring and retaining contractors that specialize in water resource engineering and wetland and streambank restoration. Second phase efforts increase stormwater capacity and infiltration, reduce nonpoint source pollution from entering the creek, prevent erosion and damage to surrounding infrastructure, and improve the instream and riparian habitat.

Phase 1 Tributary Project Area, Pre-Implementation, 2022
Phase 1 Tributary Project Area, Pre-Implementation, Spring 2023
Phase 1 Tributary Project Area during Implementation, Summer 2023
Phase 1 Tributary Project Area during Implementation, Summer 2023
Phase 1 Tributary Project Area, Post-Implementation, Summer 2023
Phase 1 Tributary Project Area, Post-Implementation, Summer 2023

Our Project’s Impact

Phase 2 Efforts (2022-2025): We anticipate achieving the below goals in our second phase of work, ongoing until 2025:

  • Reduce runoff contamination (via removing 4,612lbs of Phosphorus and 16,564lbs of Nitrogen, annually) and improve water quality in the Tributary;
  • Remove invasive species and restore natural habitat within the Tributary;
  • Reduce erosion and sedimentation along the Tributary and provide a model for achieving sediment reductions for similar types of projects in the watershed;
  • Improving in-stream and riparian habitat quality; and,
  • Support climate resiliency in the City of Hobart by improving its infrastructure to manage overbank flooding and promote infiltration by improving the Tributary’s capacity via 165,888 untreated stormwater gallons infiltrated annually.

Phase 1 Efforts (2020-2023): The project area for our first phase of restoration totaled 3.7 acres of riparian corridor with 1,100 linear feet of perennial stream, and Delta is pleased to share that the first phase of restoration efforts completed in Summer 2023 has been successful:

  • Flood Reduction and Stormwater Management: 127,996 gallons of stormwater storage added, captured and infiltrated per year; 161,172 square feet of green infrastructure added.
  • Erosion control: 0.2083 miles streambank stabilized; 24,000 lbs. of sediment inputs avoided annually.
  • Water Quality Improvement: 3,682.85 lbs. of phosphorus inputs avoided annually; 7,409 lbs. of nitrogen inputs avoided annually; 64% reduction of E-coli inputs avoided annually.
  • Habitat Restoration: 0.2083 miles of instream and riparian habitat restored.

We are proud and pleased of these metrics indicating improved environmental outcomes that will impact the entire Deep River – Portage Burns Watershed that drains into Lake Michigan.

Our partners and collaborators

This project was supported by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative under grant number GL00E03114 as well as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chi-Cal Rivers Program, and the Dr. Scholl Foundation. We appreciate their generosity and support of our restoration efforts. Delta Institute would like to thank our project partners:

  • City of Hobart and the Hobart Sanitary District (HSD)
  • Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC)
  • Cardno (now Stantec)
  • Baxter and Woodman


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