Dr. Nate Bosch, executive director for Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams, gives the Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety an update on the Center’s projects with the city Friday. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams Director Dr. Nate Bosch on Friday gave Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety an update on the educational projects the Center has worked on over the past year on the city’s behalf.

“As part of your MS4 responsibilities with the state of Indiana, you need to do some educational programs in the local schools, and you guys have contracted with the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams over the last several years to do some of those K- 12 programs in schools,” Bosch said. “So we have a memorandum of understanding that we prepare each year and this is sort of an investor report, if you will, on what we did with that support through that contract this past year.”

An MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) is a conveyance or system of conveyances owned by a public entity that discharges to waters in the US, designed or used to collect stormwater. It is not a combined sewer and not part of a sewage treatment plant, according to a definition on the Environmental Protection agency’s website.

Bosch said the first thing the city supported was the Center’s workshop series.

“We did several community events around. We did more focused events this last year due to Covid where it was smaller groups of people and more often,” he said.

The workshops included native seed-starting projects, family fishing and “green” cleaning, which involved partner organizations.

For the classroom lake experiences, the Center puts 40-gallon aquariums in local K-12 classrooms. College students maintain the aquariums.

“We do educational events. We have a library of books that go with all of them, and all the teacher needs to do is feed the fish every other day,” Bosch said.

The “big” Lake Adventure Day had over 500 students at Lucerne Park on Pike Lake. It is a fourth-grade program that was able to attract some schools from more outlying areas in Kosciusko County, he said, “as well as some great representation from Warsaw Schools.”

Fishing is always a highlight of the Lake Adventure Day, he said. “What is amazing, when we do this fishing, is very few of these kids have ever held a fishing pole, much less ever gone fishing, even though they’re growing up here in the City of Lakes. There’s very few kids who get the opportunity to go fishing. So as these kids grow up, to expect them to take care of our lakes, it’s a pretty hard sale if they’ve never been able to interact with our lakes. So this is a really cool program to get kids actually on one of our lakes,” Bosch said.

The Lilly Center also has its annual art contest. The city of Warsaw sponsored the month of August. The contest pulls in students from around the county and they all do different water-related artwork.

“Our lakes are important for our economy, but they’re also important for our quality of life, just the aesthetics, and that aesthetic really helps inspire a lot of students,” Bosch said.

After his review, he then gave the Board of Works a heads-up.

“We’re going to be looking at doing some stream sampling again in the city of Warsaw area, so stay tuned for that. We’re looking at putting some sensors above and below Pike Lake to better understand that lake. Of the three here in Warsaw, that one really needs some extra love and we want to see that lake get cleaner in the future. So we want to know what exactly is going in and what is going out, so we’re going to be working with (Warsaw Utility Superintendent) Brian (Davison) on maybe another MOU in the future for some funding to do those sensors so that the city has that information that they need to properly manage that lake,” Bosch concluded.

Mayor Joe Thallemer said, “As you mentioned, these educational requirements are critical to us maintaining our permits, so we’ve always entrusted that educational component to Lilly and thankfully they do a great job.”