Article Index
Storm Water Quality Program
Public Education and Outreach
Public Involvement and Participation
Illicit Discharge
Construction Site Runoff Control
Post Construction Runoff Control
Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
Additional Information
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Storm Water Quality Program

The Town of Chesterton's Education Program was featured in the February 2011 Municipal Sewer & Water Magazine


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Meet Jennifer Gadzala the MS4 Operator:

"I have served as the MS4 Operator for the Town of Chesterton’s Storm Water Utility since April 2006 and am responsible for program development and the day to day management of the MS4 Program.  I am also responsible for the Town’s GPS data collection and GIS-based data management.  I have been in the environmental and water quality field for over 15 years focusing on ground water and surface water quality, watershed planning and storm water management.  I graduated from Highland High School in 1984 and moved to Porter County in 1996 after graduating from Indiana University Northwest with a degree in Geology. I currently live in Chesterton with my husband and two “fuzzy children”, my dog and cat. My hobbies include golf, sailing, fishing and gardening."


What is an MS4?

MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.  An MS4 community owns or operates a system for collecting and conveying storm water.  Regulated conveyance systems include roads with drains, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, storm drains, piping, channels, ditches, tunnels and conduits.  It does not include combined sewer overflows and publicly owned treatment works.

MS4 is an unfunded, federally mandated program that requires municipalities to take measures to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff to improve water quality.  The state requires the Town of Chesterton to comply with this rule (327 IAC 15-13).

The MS4 is permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).  MS4 permits are granted in five-year cycles at the end of which the permit must be renewed.  The Town of Chesterton’s first NPDES permit was granted in 2003.  The permit was renewed in 2008. 

Visit these websites for more information.

What is a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP)?

The SWQMP is divided into three distinct components. The first part of the SWQMP is Part A or the initial application.  Part A includes a general budget sheet used to indicate to the State that a budget allocation has been made to the MS4 Program.

Part B is the Baseline Characterization. The MS4 Operator provides in the Part B information on the characterization of known water quality of all waters that receive storm water outfall discharges within the MS4 area.

The third component is the Implementation Plan and is designated as Part C.  Part C is the working document that outlines the priorities, goals, and implementation strategies that the MS4 will utilize to improve water quality. It is expected that this document will change as issues are solved, best management practices are utilized, and technology improvements are developed.

Below you will find all components of the Town of Chesterton’s SWQMP:

Permit Cycle 2003 – 2008

Permit Cycle 2008-2013


There are six components to the MS4 Program:

Public Education and Outreach

Public Involvement and Participation

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Construction Site Runoff Control

Post-Construction Storm Water Management 

Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping at Municipal Operations 


Additional Information and FAQ

          Annual Reports and State Audit Reports

          Frequently Asked Questions

          Storm Water Fees Explained

Grants Awarded for Storm Water MS4 Program Projects






Leave It On The Lawn

CLICK HERE for information on how keeping your lawn clippings on the lawn can save you and the Town time and money while decreasing impacts to the environment. Take the Lawn Survey.  Six simple questions about how you manage your lawn.

Phosphorus in fertilizers is known to cause excessive algae growth in our surface waters.   Keep your lawns green but our waters blue by using low-phosphorus or phosphorus-free fertilizers. 

Click below for a list of phophorus free lawn fertilizers available from our local retailers.


Take the Lawn to Lake Pledge Today

The Town of Chesterton Storm Water Utility encourages residents and businesses to take a healthier, more natural approach to lawn care. Following on the heels of the Leave It On The Lawn program, we are also promoting the new Lawn to Lake program.  This program promotes landscape practices that reduce pollution, particularly in our waterways. Take the Lawn to Lake Pledge.  The pledge will show your commitment to practicing natural lawn care and reducing nutrients you put on the ground.  There is a link to the Lawn to Lake Guidebook, a well thought guide to practicable lawn and landscape practices. 




 NWI Partnership for Clean Water


The Chesterton Storm Water Quality Program is part of the NWI Partnership for Clean Water established by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC).  The Partnership consists of over 20 northwest Indiana MS4 communities.  It provides assistance to MS4s in their public education and outreach efforts while producing a consistent and region-wide message on storm water management.  Be the Solution.  Stop Storm Water Pollution.


Watersheds and Non-Point Source Education Unit—Chesterton Middle School







(Left to right: Jennifer Gadzala, Samantha Hayes, Christine Livingston, Thomas Kopko)

The Watersheds and Non-Point Source Education Unit (Unit) is a collaborative effort between the Town of Chesterton Storm Water Quality Program and Chesterton Middle School.  This 3 to 4 week water quality and water conservation unit was developed in 2007 for 7th grade science students by Ms. Jennifer Gadzala, MS4 Operator and Ms. Samantha Hayes, Science Teacher.

The Unit meets numerous Indiana school curriculum requirements.  The Unit objectives include defining and delineating watersheds; defining and delineating wetlands;  personal water consumptive uses and water conservation awareness; impacts of invasive species on the natural environment and the economy; water chemistry in the classroom and the field; and local water quality issues.

Financial support is provided through the allocation of storm water fees administered by the Chesterton Storm Water Utility.  Funding is supported with grants when possible.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Unit and to see photos from the field day activities.



Education Outreach Opportunities


Classroom Water Quality and Conservation Opportunities

The Chesterton Storm Water Quality Program is committed to providing quality storm water and water conservation education opportunities to every student in the Duneland school system.

Through collaborative efforts with neighboring MS4 communities and various other entities, we offer fun and creative activities for the classroom to foster awareness and good stewardship in our youth.

For information or to schedule an activity in your classroom please contact the MS4 Operator.


Need a Speaker for Your Civic Organization?

The Storm Water Quality Program invites the opportunity to speak with your civic groups.  Presentations can be scheduled by contacting the MS4 Operator.


Do You or Your Child Suffer From Nature Deficit Disorder?  CLICK HERE.


Clean Water Awareness - Water flows downstream

The area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps it into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater is referred to as a watershed.  The water that falls onto land most likely flows downstream and takes with it pollutants picked up from the ground.   Here are a few things that you should know so that you can become the solution to keeping our waters clean.  If you're already doing your part then hooray!!  Spread the word!  Remember, clean water starts with you! 

All of Chesterton is located within the Lake Michigan watershed because all of the surface waters flow into Lake Michigan via the Little Calumet River.  Watersheds can be divided into smaller watersheds called subwatersheds.

To see what subwatershed you live in download our suberwatersheds map below: 

Click Here for, a unique website for kids 7 to 12 years old about clean water and how we all depend on it.



Pet Waste - Let’s Talk About Poop!  It's Your Duty.

Print a postcard for pet owners

CLICK HERE to learn more about pet waste and the importance of cleaning up after your pet.  Remember, clean water starts with you!







It's our responsibility to Keep Chesterton Beautiful. Not only is trash or litter unsightly, it contributes to water pollution.The top trash is found along the roads are plastics and cigarette butts. 

Storm Water Quality Program staff collaborated with Chesterton High School art students in 2010 to design a logo for the Keep Chesterton Beautiful campaign.Student Jessica Lohse's design was chosen and will be included in all printed media and on our Keep Chesterton Beautiful website (link below).

 CLICK HERE for information on how to Keep Chesterton Beautiful.  Check out this video created in 2010 by Chesterton High School students, Jake Webb, Kristen Pesut, and Mike Lara from teacher Matthew Waters' Advanced TV class. 

 RECYCLE YOUR LAYTEX PAINT - Hopkins Ace Hardware (325 S. Calumet Rd) now offers latex paint recycling.  For a minimal fee you can drop off unwanted latex paint.  Although latex paint is considered non-toxic, it is still made-up of potentially toxic chemicals.  The paint is collected and taken to a facility in Grayslake, Illinois where it is separated and bulked into 55 gallon drums.  It is either processed into new, usable latex paint or made into a filler product used in the manufacturing of concrete. 




 Sewers...Know The Difference

Did you know that storm water runoff doesn't get treated at a treatment plant before it is discharged to a receiving water like a creek, stream, lake or pond? 

Click Here for more information.



NEW!  Check out the new PBS Kids Go! website.   Loop Scoops is designed for kids 6 to 9 years old.  The site includes short animated videos about what kids consume and throw away every day.


Educational Publications

In addition to the resources available on the Northwest Indiana MS4 Community Partnership website, the following publications are available for download:


Coloring Pages
For additional information, visit the Storm Water Coalition Website


There are many things you can do to protect water quality right where you live and work. From storm drain stenciling to stream clean ups you can be involved. See below for more information or contact the MS4 Operator at 219-728-1336.

Participate in a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection

Bring your household hazardous waste to a collection event and reduce the risk of polluting our waterways.  More and more people are  taking advantage of this FREE opportunity.  The schedule link below includes a list of items that are accepted at the collections.  Medications are now accepted.  Gas Can Exchange is available.  Get a new-environmentally friendly gas can for an older model can you turn in (limit one gas can per person).  LATEX PAINT-you can recycle this at Hopkins Ace Hardware (325 S. Calumet Rd) for a minimal fee, or remove the lid from the can and allow to dry completely.  Then dispose of in the trash.


Become a Storm Water Hero - Volunteer Opportunity


Become a Storm Water Hero by volunteering to do storm drain stenciling in Town. This is a fun and empowering community project for individuals, families, scouts, community groups and students.Only Rain Down the Drain” painted next to a storm drain will remind your neighbors that only storm water should enter our storm drains. Remember, clean water starts with you.

Contact the MS4 Operator at 219-728-1336 to set up a storm drain stenciling project and become a Storm Water Hero!  All personal safety equipment and apparel is provided.


Adopt A Stream Annual Clean Up - Volunteer Opportunity

The Storm Water Quality Program hosts the annual Adopt a Stream Clean Up at Coffee Creek in conjunction with the annual Adopt a Beach International Coastal Clean Up event. The clean up is held on the third or fourth Saturday in September. This is a great way to have fun and to be actively involved in protecting water quality in Coffee Creek. Registration for the event is done through the Alliance for the Great Lakes at


Water Conservation

Saving water is extremely important for the protection of our water resources and is everyone's responsibility.  Water supports all forms of life and affects our health, lifestyle, and economic well-being.  There are actions you can take as a resident or business in the Town of Chesterton.  Planting a rain garden or installing a rain barrel and fixing household leaks are but a few water-conserving projects. For more information on water conservation click on the links below or contact the MS4 Operator at 219-728-1336.

Click Here for:

Rain Garden Information

Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts



Watershed Sign Contest 2009


In 2009 the Storm Water Quality Program hosted a watershed sign design contest.  The signs are used as part of watershed awareness.  Placed in thirteen roadside locations throughout town, the signs indicate to drivers their arrival in different subwatersheds that make up the Lake Michigan basin.

Fifteen designs were submitted and the Storm Water Board selected the top 4 that were showcased at Town Hall.  The public was asked to vote for their favorite.  Chesterton High School student, Jannon Jeffries had the winning design.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) pertains to illicit, or not lawful, connections to storm sewers, and the illegal discharge and/or dumping of pollutants into storm sewers.  The Chesterton Storm Water Quality Program takes IDDE very seriously because these practices can lead to reductions in the quality of water in our local waterways.  Storm sewers do not flow to a treatment plant like the sanitary sewers.  Storm water runoff does not get treated prior to release into our waterways.

Illicit connection

Any improper physical connection to the storm sewer system. Examples include: a floor drain or household greywater drain (i.e. laundry or sink drain) that is connected to storm drain; a septic tank discharge pipe that is connected to a storm drain or drains directly to a waterway or an improper connection between a storm sewer and sanitary sewer.

Illegal discharge

Any direct or indirect non-storm water discharge to the MS4 system including ditches, culverts, and storm sewers.

Pollutants are defined in Town Code (Chapter 24, Section 24-1) as anything that causes or contributes to pollution or thermal pollution, including, but not limited to, heat, paints, varnishes, and solvents; oil and other automotive fluids; non-hazardous liquid and solid wastes and yard wastes; refuse, rubbish, garbage, litter, or other discarded or abandoned objects, and accumulations, so that same may cause or contribute to pollution; floatables; pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; hazardous substances and wastes; sewage, fecal coliform and pathogens; dissolved and particulate metals; animal wastes; wastes and residues that result from constructing a building or structure; and noxious or offensive matter of any kind.

For more information regarding IDDE please refer to Chapter 24 of Town Code or contact the MS4 Operator at (219) 728-1336.


The Storm Water Management Ordinance requires an approved Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for land disturbance over (1) acre or a land disturbance of less than one (1) acre provided that it is part of a larger plan of development. This plan must be submitted as part of the construction plans.

The SWPPP requires Post-Construction storm water control measures to be submitted and approved as part of the construction plans.  Post-Construction Narratives are required before completion of the project.  The narrative describes the maintenance guidelines for all post-construction storm water quality measures to facilitate their proper long-term function.

For construction sites smaller than (1) one acre please contact the Building Department at 219-926-2222

For more information:

 IDEM Rule 5 website

 Rule 13 (327 IAC 15-13)

How do I apply for a Permit?

All construction sites over (1) acre must have an approved Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Permit prior to any land disturbance activity.  Read the Project Owner Compliance Guide to see what steps you should take to successfully apply for an ESC permit:

Necessary Town of Chesterton Forms to be filed



Necessary IDEM Forms to be filed

Please Note:  Project Owners are required to purchase the Storm Water Best Management Practices Technical Manual available for $5.00 at Town Hall


User Class Base Rate Variable Rate Total
Residential $4.15 $1.95 $6.10
Non-Residential $4.15 $1.95 per ERU variable





Post construction storm water management is required to address discharges of post construction storm water runoff from new development and redevelopment areas that disturb one (1) or more acres of land.  The proper installation and maintenance of post construction storm water quality measures are required.

Post construction storm water quality measures approved as part of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan/Construction Plan are to achieve elimination of 80% or more of the average annual post-development total suspended solids load (Town Code Section 24-103).







 The Town of Chesterton currently incorporates several elements of pollution prevention and good housekeeping that are designed to minimize impacts to our local waterways from municipal operations.

  • Pollution prevention at all municipal facilities including secondary storage containment, proper waste management, and standard operating procedures for spill prevention and control.
  • Annual Storm Water Pollution Prevention and Emergency Spill Response training for municipal employees.
  • Periodic pavement sweeping at municipal facilities.
  • Minimization of pesticide and fertilizer application and use.




Annual Reports and State Audit Reports

Annual Reports


State MS4 Program Audit Reports




Frequently Asked Questions

 Why do we pay a monthly storm water fee? 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), urbanized areas have the greatest potential to pollute storm water runoff.  USEPA established National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) MS4 Phase II regulations in 2003 requiring municipalities over 10,000 population to develop storm water quality management plans (Phase I regulations enacted in 1990 apply to communities with populations over 100,000 like Indianapolis).  This regulation was enacted as an unfunded mandate.  Chesterton developed a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP) that states our goals and objectives for minimizing pollutants in storm water runoff.  In order to cover the costs of implementing the SWQMP Chesterton established storm water fees for residents and commercial/industrial property owners.  See Storm Water Fees Explained below. 


I don't have storm sewers serving my property.  Why am I being charged this fee? 

Every property contributes to and places a demand on the storm water conveyance system.  Every property benefits from the Town's Storm Water Quality Program activities, whether or not there is a constructed storm sewer connected directly to their property.  The Town's vast storm water conveyance system consists of both natural and constructed features, many of which are not obvious.  In addition to the traditional storm sewer system, the MS4 conveyance system includes roads, ditches, swales, and culverts.  Under the federal MS4 mandate, the Town must manage the entire storm water conveyance system, which includes providing water quality protection, conveyance system mapping, water sampling and testing, watershed planning, public education and outreach, and other programs for the benefit of the entire community.


I was informed that my bill is based on my property's "impervious surface".  What is an "impervious surface"? 

It is the are on a property that is covered by buildings, driveways, parking areas, and other hard surfaces (concrete, gravel asphalt, roof-tops) that prevent storm water runoff from being absorbed into the ground.  Consequently, storm water runoff picks up pollutants deposited on these impervious surfaces, such as oil, gasoline, pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals and carries them to our waterways.  In addition, as runoff travels over impervious surfaces, it gains speed and erodes soil near or in the waterways, adding another pollutant called sediment. 



Storm Water Fees Explained

The amount of impervious surface (hard surfaces such as roads, buildings, driveways, and parking lots) are the factors taken into consideration to determine an equitable storm water fee.  The amount of impervious surface on a parcel is meassured through the use of aerial photography.

Fees are determined using a base rate and an Equivalent Residential Unit or ERU assessed on every parcel.  An ERU is a unit value, which is equal to the average amount of impervious surface area for a single-family home within the Storm Water Quality Program jurisdiction (the entirety of Town).  One (1) ERU has been determined to equal 3,585 square feet of impervious surface area.


There are two classes of users, or owners of a parcel of land or building located with the Storm Water Quality Program jurisdiction:  Residential and Non-Residential.  Residential Users are those containing two (2) or less single-family dwellilng units.


User Class Base Rate     Variable Rate        Total Per Month  
A.    Residential $4.15 $1.95 $6.10
B. Non-Residential     $4.15 $1.95 per ERU Variable






Grants Awarded for Storm Water MS4 Program Projects

Dogwood Park Wetland Education Project

The Dogwood Park Wetland Education Project combined the efforts of the Town's Storm Water Quality Program and the Park Department in creating a dual-purpose wetland at the northwest corner of Dogwood Park.  The wetland provides a storm water quality improvement feature and signs installed at the perimeter of the wetland provide an interpretive-based environmental education.  A grant in the amount of $4,200 was awarded by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

The wetland is primarily designed to improve the quality of storm water runoff from a portion of the newly paved parking area of Dogwood Park's west side by decreasing the speed of the runoff, permitting increased infiltration and groundwater recharge, and providing enhanced pollutant removal from the water.  The original rectangular-shaped grassed basin was redesigned to provide a meandering flow channel and wetland system functions.  The basin was planted with a varitey of deep-rooted native herbaceous and woody plants most common in wetlands.


The benefits to recreating a more natural wetland ecosystem include an increase in plant, bug, and animal diversity, as well as a more aesthetically pleasing landscape for visitors to enjoy and learn from.  On May 28, 2008, twelve members of Chesterton High School's Environmental Club and two interested citizens assisted in the installation of over one thousand (1,000) individual plant plugs into the basin.  Trees were installed by Park Department staff to complete the landscaping plan, and two educational signs were installed to finalize the project.

Sign_Wetland_Construction        Sign_Wetland_Benefits


Watersheds and Non-Point Source Education Unit

The Watersheds and Non-Point Source Education Unit (Unit) is a collaborative effort between the Town of Chesterton Storm Water Quality Program and Chesterton Middle School.  This 3 to 4 week water quality and water conservation unit was developed in 2007 for 7th grade science students by Ms. Jennifer Gadzala, MS4 Operator and Ms. Samantha Hayes, Science Teacher.  The Unit meets numerous Indiana school curriculum requirements.  The Unit objectives include defining and delineating watersheds; defining and delineating wetlands; personal water consumptive uses and water conservation awareness; impacts of invasive species on the natural environment and the economy; water chemistry in the classroom and the field; and local water quality issues.

The MS4 Program received a $1,250 grant in 2009 to supplement the Unit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program.  This grant was used to match $1,250 from the Storm Water Utility to purchase water quality testing kits and supplies, and printer ink and paper for the creation and printing of the student's final project reports, brochures, and other assignments.


MS4 Program Accomplishments

The Storm Water Quality Program is committed to assuring complaince with State and Federal MS4 regulations.  Each year, the Storm Water Management Board is presented a list of accomplishments by the MS4 program staff to show this commitment.