By LYN CRIGHTON
Executive Director, The Watershed Foundation
NORTH WEBSTER — The Clean Waters Partnership, an extension of The Watershed Foundation, formerly The Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation, recently received a $200,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Beginning at Lake Tippecanoe, the Tippecanoe River and its tributaries flow through the center of Kosciusko County. This entire watershed area encompasses 20-25 percent of the county, and includes four major lakes: Pike, Center, Winona and Chapman, plus many smaller lakes.
This area is unique, boasting a way of life centered on natural resources that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The lakes and streams sprawling throughout the town have brought together families, enticed business location, and driven culture and education. The demand placed on these natural resources can strain local entities that are charged with protecting the waters, land and wildlife.
Soon, these resources will have a new partner in their corner. The Clean Waters Partnership is an extension of The Watershed Foundation, previously the Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation, an organization formed in 1997 to protect and preserve the natural resources in the headwaters of the Tippecanoe River watershed.
Theresa Sailor, the Stormwater coordinator for the City of Warsaw and Steering Committee member of CWP, is excited about the possibilities this new funding and partnership will bring to the area.
“The city recognizes the importance of protecting water quality and is working to reduce erosion on public lands as well as actively working to protect water quality through best management practices in daily operations,” said Sailor. “However, public funds must be used for public projects.”
The CWP was created in 2014 to begin the process of applying for grants and organizing community action for clean water. On Jan. 1, TWF was awarded a highly-competitive $200,000 grant from the IDEM to help cover the cost of developing a watershed management plan for this area.
Throughout the 2 1/2-year planning process, the CWP will survey rural and urban residents about water quality issues, assess current water quality conditions, identify and prioritize sources of pollution, educate youth and adults about making clear choices for clean water, and engage stakeholders in the planning process.
“Our hope is that TWF and this partnership will help out where other agencies can’t,” said Sailor. “This grant will allow the CWP to fill in the gaps and target the needs of our waters that cannot be achieved using public funds.”
One of the CWP’s many strengths is the strong community support from individuals, businesses, and governmental organizations. This is a united enterprise in conjunction with partners that include the Center for Lakes & Streams, City of Warsaw, Town of Winona Lake, Kosciusko County Council, Health, Planning, Surveying and Emergency Management Departments, Indiana-American Water Company, Zimmer Biomet Inc., the Builders’ Association Kosciusko Fulton Counties, KC Recycling Depot, Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Chapman, Center, Pike and Winona Lakes.
TWF has a history of successful water management plan development and implementation of the work to stop pollution at its root source. Already, the Foundation has completed over 95 water quality improvement projects, established an agriculturally focused Healthy Soils, Clean Water program and co-developed the internationally recognized Clear Choices, Clean Water education campaign.
To learn more, or to become involved with this opportunity, visit watershedfoundation.org.