By Heather Augustyn | Post-Tribune | July 31, 2015
Read the full article here! (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-michiana-clean-st-0801-20150731-story.html)
An effort to keep Lake Michigan and surrounding areas friendly to the environment by a Portage marina has earned it a state honor.
Marina Shores Marina has been named a “clean marina” by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management because of its water protection efforts and protection of aquatic habitats.
Marina Shores, a 255-boat marina located at Dune Harbor in Portage, is the fifth such marina to receive this designation from IDEM in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program, which began in May 2008.
Dorreen Carey, special projects manager with the Lake Michigan Coastal Program, said the designation means the marina as well as boaters are making efforts to keep pollutants out of the water.
She said they use a guidebook with more than 60 measures designed to keep the marina and water in the area clean.
“There are things that if not handled properly can pollute a marina, like petroleum, pathogens, on-board sewage, even pet waste from around the area could be a problem, so making sure the boaters understand these issues and the marina does maintenance work is important,” she said.
In addition to the pollutants, additional problems can occur when boaters clean their boats with solvents that run into the water and when they clean their fish, Carey said, but Marina Shores has educated their boaters with fact sheets and installed measures to limit that contamination.
“Marina Shores put in a state-of-the-art fish-cleaning station so the waste doesn’t contaminate the water,” she said.
Carey credits Harbor Master Scott Praxl with leading the effort.
“He is the one who really takes the responsibility for the marina, to get it certified, but all of the sponsors of the marina commit to keep it going,” she said.
Praxl said the effort comes after years of work.
“It’s just trying to be as environmentally friendly as we can. It has been a couple of years that we’ve been working toward this status, and so it has happened slowly, but this year we made it,” he said.
Getting the word out has been critical, as has installing new resources to make it easy to be green.
“Everybody wants to do it and maybe they just need a little push,” Praxl said. “We have recycling bins at the end of docks now — that makes it easier — and the fish-cleaning station has helped immensely. Before, we were putting everything in the garbage, and it was smelly and wasteful. But now it is really beautiful and helps to keep everything clean.”
Dave Bresnahan, project manager at Marina Shores, agreed.
“We make every effort every day to make sure all of our facilities are clean, and we pay a lot of attention to making sure everything is what I like to call ‘Disneyland clean,’ ” he said. “That’s what makes people want to come here.”
Other marinas to earn the designation include Hammond Marina, Portage Public Marina, and Sprague Point and Washington Park in Michigan City.
Carey said the designation benefits everyone.
“It’s really good for the people who use the marina because the water is clean, and many people select a marina because they know the water is clean,” Carey said. “But it’s also good for all of us because the water is kept clean for recreation, our drinking water is cleaner, and the water is clean for fish and wildlife.”
Heather Augustyn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.