WARSAW — Have you seen changes in your favorite lake, stream or river? While change is inevitable there are some changes which affects the quality of water used by humans, fish, wildlife and agriculture. Some of these changes can be reversed or controlled. If nothing is done, this natural resource could disappear, eliminating fishing and recreational activities.
The Clean Waters Partnership was created to develop a watershed management plan for the Tippecanoe River and its tributaries. Starting at Lake Tippecanoe, the Tippecanoe River and its tributaries flow through the center of the county. The entire watershed area drains to the Tippecanoe River and encompasses 20 to 25 percent of the county. It includes four major lakes: Pike, Center, Winona and Chapman, plus many smaller lakes.
The CWP is in the process of building a management plan by gathering and examining available watershed data, obtain input from the community, itemize critical problem areas in the watershed, set goals and create an action strategy to get the improvements completed.
An open house by the new Clean Waters Partnership was held Wednesday afternoon, March 23, at the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce where individuals could see the areas affected, learn about programs and see a roadmap of The Watershed Plan.
This roadmap involves: inventory of the watershed, invite public participation, identify concerns, test the water, share the results, write a plan, get to work, fundraising, work on projects and make a difference.
Concerns by open house attendees were shared and include: fertilizer from farm fields, blue/green algae, loss of shinners and fish size in Tippecanoe River downstream of Warsaw; invasive weeds, such as the starry stonewort; growth of invasive weeds and algae; people taking water quality for granted; and septic systems flowing into lakes, streams and rivers.
Among the demonstrations were the secchi disk test used to determine the water clarity based on the visibility depth of the disk, a demonstration of what water does with bare soil compared to ground covered with a cover crop such as grass, rye or other crops.
Concerns, no matter how big or small it may seem, the CWP needs individuals to share those concerns, let them know what is liked about the watershed and what should be protected or what an individual see needs to be changed. The comments can be sent to the CWP, an extension of The Watershed Foundation, by mail at P.O. Box 55, North Webster, IN 46555, called in at (574) 834-3242, emailed to email@example.com, or a message sent through TWF’s website.
Individuals can also start improving the lakes and streams in the community by becoming a partner in the CWP by donating time, talent and treasure to get the efforts going and through learning and spreading the word. Individuals can organize meetings and outreach events so everyone — cities and towns, farms, businesses, civic organizations, government agencies and schools know about the watershed and participates in planning.
The Watershed Foundation was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to help cover the cost of developing a Watershed Management Plan to address water quality issues in the area. The planning process will be 2 1/2 years.