Amanda Vandenoever knew she wanted to make a difference in the construction or conservation of cities, but she had no idea she would end up working with something so imperative to every aspect of Porter County.
“I originally wanted to design buildings and bridges. As I was taking those classes, I realized that it didn't come naturally to me. Things came more naturally in my water-based classes where we were learning water management or environmental resources. Those things made more sense and hit a different tone with me,” Vandenoever said.
Vandenoever currently works as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program Coordinator for Porter County, which means she has a hand in just about everything that deals with stormwater across the county.
The MS4 program was created by the federal government in 1987 as a part of the Clean Water Act, and its goal is to enforce federal and state requirements for clean streams, creeks, and waterways by regulating pollutants and other potentially harmful contaminants. It is part of the Development and Storm Water Department, which deals with buildings and permits, roads and highways, and stormwater management.
Vandenoever was first introduced to the position during her time at her first job after college. She worked closely with the MS4 program coordinator for the City of Valparaiso, Indiana, and decided that it was something she could see herself doing as a career.
Anything that deals with stormwater runoff is likely monitored by Vandenoever in some capacity. She frequently visits construction sites and waterways within the county to monitor the consumption and disposal of stormwater and spends the rest of her time educating the public about illicit discharge, clean water practices, and just how much water there is to enjoy within Porter County.
“I don't know how far people come to see what Lake Michigan is like or to see the Dunes, to kayak near there, and experience the wildlife. Without clean water, we don't have that,” Vandenoever said.
The northern part of the county is rich in water from Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes, and the southern part features the Kankakee River, which spans multiple counties and feeds into the Mississippi River. No matter where a person is in Porter County, Vandenoever says, there is always a natural waterway to enjoy and protect.
While she did not grow up in the area, Vandenoever has found a lot to love about Porter County since moving to the Region eight years ago. She feels her job has allowed her to experience so much of what the county has to offer, and she said she has met a lot of great people who care about the community they live in through her work with the MS4 program.
“I really like learning. It is fun, and the more I learn about what stormwater means, what clean water and water quality means, the more I feel connected to this area and the water that surrounds it,” Vandenoever said.
To learn more about Porter County Storm Water, visit www.portercountystormwater.org.