This fall, the Allen County SWCD and the Maumee Watershed Alliance had numerous opportunities to give tours of Fort Wayne’s three rivers – the St. Mary’s, the St. Joseph’s, and the Maumee. These tours were designed to educate both farmers and urbanites on the importance of water quality and the part everyone plays in maintaining and improving the water quality around Allen County. Greg Lake, the Allen Co. SWCD Director, and Dan Wire, an Associate SWCD Board Member and Maumee Watershed Alliance Member, expressed how important it is to get people on the water. According to Dan Wire, “When people get on the river, they realize it’s not as bad as they thought.” Riding the river also gives an understanding of the programs already in place to improve and maintain water quality and the opportunities to get involved.
The Allen County SWCD even had the chance to give a tour to both Tom Bechman, the editor for the Indiana Prairie Farmer, and Jerry Raynor, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist. Dan Wire and Greg Lake shared about the programs that improve water quality locally, and Jerry Raynor spoke about what is happening statewide in the promotion of conservation. Tom Bechman wrote several stories about his trip to Allen County and published them in the October 2020 issue of the Indiana Prairie Farmer. Now the message of water quality is being spread across Indiana.
Take a look at these articles written by Tom Bechman from his visit to Allen County!
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.
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 in Ohio hold back water in the Flatrock Creek and cause
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
Excessive Nutrients entering Streams/Ditches
Runoff from farmland where manure has been land applied. Livestock
access to open water. Faulty septic systems.
Tile field inlets provide a direct conduit for sediment and other
pollutants to flow directly into the tile system.
Stormwater picks up pollutants from barnyards and carries them to
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
2020 Windshield Survey: Primary Concerns
Total # of Points Observed
Unbuffered Field Tile Inlets
Windshield Survey: Other Observations
Numerous sites lack adequate filter strips adjacent to
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
The project team will continue to investigate all of the items
on the stakeholder List of Concerns and report back on their findings.