Developing a Watershed Management Plan for the Flatrock Creek/Auglaize River Watershed

The Allen County, Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District has received a Water Quality Planning Grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to develop a watershed management plan for the Flatrock Creek/ Auglaize River watershed. This watershed is located in the SE corner of Allen County, Indiana, the NE corner of Adams County, Indiana, and portions of Paulding and Van Wert Counties in Ohio. The grant period is Nov. 26, 2019 – Dec. 25, 2021.

What is a Watershed Management Plan?

A watershed management plan identifies problems and threats to water resources and develops a framework to address these issues. It is intended to be a practical tool with specific recommendations on practices to improve and sustain water quality.

Its primary purpose is to guide citizens, watershed coordinators, resource managers, policy makers, and community organizations to restore and protect water quality in the rivers, streams, and wetlands in the Flatrock/Auglaize watershed.

It is developed using a watershed planning process that includes steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, and develop protection or remediation strategies.

This planning effort will be led by a Steering Committee comprised of local stakeholders (citizens, businesses, governments, non-governmental organizations…) who are most knowledgeable of the needs of the watershed.

Steering Committee
Members Affiliation
Dale Anderson Farmer
Mark Anderson Farmer
Lindsey Bluhm Indiana State Department of Agriculture
Tim Bomba USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Pat Brames Farmer
Jeremy Freimuth Allen County Surveyors Office
Matt Fuelling Ebberts Field Seeds, Agribusiness
Ron Funk Farmer
Brent Hoffman Hoffman Bulldozing & Farm Services, Inc.
Matt Jarrett Allen County Surveyors Office
Greg Kneubuhler G&K Concepts, Agribusiness
Brad Kohlhagen Adams County Purdue Extension Service
Greg Lake Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Austin Miller Farmer
Tom Miller Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
John Nidlinger Farmer
Larry Oberley Town of Monroeville
Seth Owens VanWert County Soil & Water Conservation District
Sharon Partridge Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Leslie Robertson Farmer
Troy Robertson Farmer
Ron Roy Ag Plus, Agribusiness
Brooke Rudicel Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Barry Scherer Adams County Regional Sewer District
Courtney Scherer Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Nathan Scherer Adams County Health Department
Stephanie Singer The Nature Conservancy
Scott Thompson Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Kristi Todd Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Eugene Trabel Farmer
Patrick Troyer Paulding County Soil & Water Conservation Service
Sandy Voglewede Adams County Soil & Water Conservation Service
Mike Werling Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
James Wolff Allen County Purdue Extension Service

The project area covers 96,580 acres. For research and planning purposes, the total project area will be sub-divided into 5 subwatershed: Wildcat Creek; Headwaters Flatrock Creek; Bohnke Ditch; Hoffman Creek; and Brown Ditch.

For more information about the Flatrock/Auglaize Watershed Management Plan project, contact the Allen County SWCD.

June 22, 2020 Update

Flatrock/Auglaize Watershed Management Plan

The Steering Committee and staff have been collecting information about the Flatrock/Auglaize watershed and comparing it to the List of Concerns that the Steering Committee and Technical Advisors developed in their first two meetings.

Stakeholder Concerns
Concerns Relevance
Flooding Corn and soybean fodder washing from fields plugging ditches. Unresolved issue of a limestone shelf in the Flatrock downstream of the Indiana/Ohio state line that holds back water. Lack of coordination between Indiana and Ohio drainage authorities contributes to flooding problems.
Log Jams Log jams in Ohio hold back water in the Flatrock Creek and cause flooding.
Stream/Ditch Bank Erosion Prevalent throughout the watershed especially in areas where stream/ditch banks are subject to flooding.
Need for more Water Quality Research Two sub-watersheds have their headwaters in Ohio and the contribution to poor water quality from the Ohio area is unknown.
Lack of Water Quality Education/Outreach Residents unaware of resource concerns. No materials/activities to date specifically addressing the project area.
High E. coli Levels Historic water quality data collected at Sample Site 401 identifies 34% of E.coli reading exceed the water quality target level.
High Turbidity Levels Historic water quality data collected at Sample Site 401 identifies 100% of Turbidity readings exceed the water quality target level.
High Phosphorus Levels Historic water quality data collected at Sample Site 401 identifies 79% of Total Phosphorus readings exceed the water quality target level.
Faulty Septic Systems Failing systems. Older homes where waste is piped straight to the streams/ditches.
Excessive Nutrients entering Streams/Ditches Runoff from farmland where manure has been land applied. Livestock access to open water. Faulty septic systems.
Excessive Sediment in Water Column Unbuffered agricultural runoff. Eroding stream/ditch banks.
Lack of Filter Strips Unbuffered agricultural runoff. Eroding stream/ditch banks.
No Residue/Cover on Ag Fields Only 10% of fields are in no-till/cover crops.
Unbuffered Tile Field Inlets Tile field inlets provide a direct conduit for sediment and other pollutants to flow directly into the tile system.
Barnyard Runoff Stormwater picks up pollutants from barnyards and carries them to open water.
Stream/Ditches Listed as Impaired by IDEM 303d listed segments for nutrients and impaired biotic communities.
   

A Windshield Survey was completed in April of 2020.  Just like it sounds, windshield surveys are done from a vehicle. This type of data collection is useful for verifying digital information and for pinpointing problem areas. Teams of two to three people drove every road in the project area looking for evidence of the concerns listed by stakeholders and technical advisors. The primary concerns that were identified are listed in the table below.

2020 Windshield Survey: Primary Concerns

County Total # of Points Observed Log Jams Bank Erosion Flooding Unbuffered Field Tile Inlets
Allen 180 1 77 3 117
Adams 130 0 3 0 182
Paulding 27 4 5 1 4
Van Wert 21 0 1 0 15
Total 358 5 86 4 318

Windshield Survey: Other Observations

Numerous sites lack adequate filter strips adjacent to streams/ditches.

Invasive species were observed at a limited number of sites.

Illegal dumping was observed at a limited number of sites.

Improper application of livestock manure was observed at a limited number of sites.

Few sites were observed where flooding has impacted property long-term.

The project team will continue to investigate all of the items on the stakeholder List of Concerns and report back on their findings.