Jasper County Soil & Water Conservation District

211 East Drexel Parkway, Rensselaer, IN 47978

219-866-8008 x3

jaspercountysoilandwater@gmail.com

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Our Efforts

Identified Concerns

  • Flashiness and Flooding
    • ​The Iroquois River has undesirable high and low levels (flashiness) and flows of water that could negatively impact our towns, agricultural land, water quality, and fish habitat. We think this is because of channelization, sedimentation and increased water inputs (tile outlets, impervious surfaces, loss of upstream water holding capacity), resulting in increased velocity of in-stream water.

    • What we want: To ensure flow of water is not hindered via log jams and cleaning areas where needed, while at the same time slowing water down in upper headwater areas to even out the high and low flows (Dunne and Leopold 1978). Explore and identify sites for two-stage ditches and wetland creations (slow release of water), reduce stream band erosion, increase capacity, decrease velocity, expand existing wetlands areas and/or create new wetland areas in old oxbows and low lying areas, raise public awareness, and create and promote honest and open discussions between various points of view.

 
  • Protecting and Creating Healthy Fish Habitat
    • ​The desirable native fish populations in the Iroquois River and surrounding waterways are suspected to be in decline; we think it’s because of poor water quality and lack of good breeding habitat.

    • What we want: Appropriate and healthy populations of native species, protection of existing fish habitat and known fishing spots and creation of more favorable fish habitat, which will result in improvement of water quality. Open sealed backwaters and bayous, increase forested riparian buffer ones, and establish water quality baseline.

  • Too Much Sediment in the Water
    • ​Soil erosion (both water and wind) are contributing to the scouring and sloughing of stream banks which appear to be negatively impacting water quality and reducing water capacities. We think preventing sediment from reaching the water and reducing stream flashiness may help.

    • What we want: We want to see our toes when standing in the water. To do this we must prevent soil from reaching the river via encouraging conservation tillage practices, installation of waterways, cover cropping, preserving riparian areas and encouraging other best management practices (BMPs).​​

  • Lack of Recreational Access to the River​

    • The river watershed is desirable.  However,  lack of awareness, log jams, poor water quality, perceived poor fishing and eating quality, and a lack of public access points prevent widespread recreational use.

    • What we want: To increase the variety of uses of the river. We also would like to increase the number and quality of our access points. In addition. we want to clear log jams,  have verification of the safety of eating fish, create a map of access points and an area map, have a report of water quality and increase the public use of the Iroquois.

  • Too Many Nutrients in the Water​
    • The Iroquois River and its tributaries are listed on the 303d list for “excessive nutrients”, which negatively impact aquatic wildlife and potentially can impact groundwater drinking supplies. We think failing septic systems, manure mismanagement, field soil erosion, nitrogen loss out of tile drains and lawn fertilizer, bare ground during the winter, stream access by livestock, lack of conservation tillage, and geological based hotspots may be significant sources of nutrients. 

    • What we want: Waterways delisted from 303d list, reduce nutrients reaching waterways, more acres in conservation tillage, use of cover crops, funding sources, filter strips, and septic management issues.

  • High E. coli Levels​
    • Elevated levels of E.coli in the waterways DO make it unsafe to swim, fish, recreate, and impact other downstream uses. We know failing septics, combined sewer overflows, and other possible sources such as stream access by livestock, pet wastes, wildlife, and improper manure management may be key sources.

    • What we want: Reduce E. coli levels. Establish facts about septic systems and livestock access points, funding options to address septic, trends, policy changes to promote improved systems, cluster development for new subdivision, and reduce over-application of manure. 

Watershed Management Plan

The Upper Iroquois River Watershed Management Plan attempts to design a course of action to work cooperatively toward an environmentally and economically healthy watershed that benefits all stakeholders. The plan identifies pollutants and their sources, select, prioritize, and map the significant non-point source pollutants, and identify Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce these pollutants.

Click below to view the different parts of the Watershed Management Plan:

Final Grant Report

Wondering what all we accomplished? Be sure to read our Final Grant Report to learn more about what we accomplished during this grant!

Is it Safe to Canoe the Iroquois River?

The US Geological Survey has two Sentry Gauges on the Upper Iroquois River that provide live feed data. Use the following resources to determine if it is safe to canoe the Iroquois River:

  1. The USGS Graph for the Sentry Gauge east of Rensselaer 

  2. The USGS Graph for the Sentry Gauge near Foresman,

  3. The chart below that was developed by the Jasper County SWCD (the chart was created from field checking local steam conditions for two years by volunteers and staff)

 

Wondering how long it takes to canoe the Iroquois River? Check out our Iroquois River Canoe Mileage and Map Charts

 
 
 
 

Steering Committee

The steering committee was formed by both the Jasper County and Newton County SWCD’s board members submitting names of local decision makers who would be important to have on a steering committee. Individuals representing farmers, businesses, the cities, towns, and counties within the watershed; neighborhood associations; environmental groups; natural resource and engineering professionals; and industrial and educational entities comprised the steering committee. Many of these names came from partnering organizations and stakeholders who had supported the initial grant application. Each steering committee member was then asked to chair a specific work group to address the concerns lists.

Steering Committee Members and their Affiliation:

  • Andrew Martin- Purdue Extension: Newton County

  • Brian Johnson- Newton County SWCD/Farmer

  • Chris Knochel- Newton County Surveyor

  • Don Knochel- Farmer

  • Gus Nyberg- NICHES Land Trust

  • Jerry Johnson- Farmer

  • Jon Charlesworth- Purdue Extension: Benton County

  • Kyler Laird- Farmer, Laird LLC

  • Lana Zimmer- Jasper County SWCD board member/St. Joseph College

  • Larry Osterholz- Retired Soil Scientist

  • Mark Davisson- Private Business

  • Mike Babcock- Remington Parks

  • Sara DeYoung- Friends of Iroquois

  • Scott Harmon- Private Business

  • Stephanie Johnson- Citizen, REMC

  • Steve Eilers- Newton County SWCD/Farmer

  • Rose Morgan- Newton County SWCD

  • Vince Urbano- Jasper County Surveyor

Work Groups

  • Outdoor Recreation- The Outdoor Recreation work group worked to address the concern of lack of recreation access and opportunities in the watershed. They existed to raise awareness about the Iroquois river and create a plan of increasing access to the river.

    • Gus Nyberg- NICHES Land Trust

    • Kyler Laird- Farmer

    • Steve Eilers- Farmer

    • Sara De Young- Friends of the Iroquois

    • Brian Johnson- Newton County SWCD/Farmer

    • Dan Blaney- Blaney Law

  • Agricultural- The Agriculture work group worked on two levels: the first completing the watershed inventory for their respective area and the second identifying specific best management practices (BMPs) and implementation areas for the implementation phase of the project.

    • Don Knochel- Farmer

    • Kyler Laird- Farmer

    • Steve Eilers- Farmer

    • Lyle Busboom- Crop Guard Services

    • Brian Johnson- Newton County SWCD/Farmer

    • Andrew Martin- Purdue Extension: Newton

  • Water Quality- The water quality work group was responsible for sample site identification, historic water quality data identification, and data review and recommendation development. This group met in the spring of 2011 to identify sites where water was to be monitored for the next several years. Once sample collection began, this group met on a roughly quarterly basis to review current and historic data, identify water quality targets, complete data analysis, and begin prioritization of concern areas.

    • Lana Zimmer- Jasper County SWCD

    • Mark Davisson- Citizen

    • Gus Nyberg- NICHES Land Trust

    • Scott Harmon- Earthwise LLC

    • Rose Morgan- Newton County SWCD

    • Stephanie Johnson- Jasper County REMC

  • Urban Workgroup- The urban workgroup was formed to target those residents that live in the towns that are considered in critical need of water management practices. Rensselaer, Kentland, Remington, and Brook were the areas we focused on.

    • Larry Osterholz- Retired Soil Scientist

    • Mark Davisson- Citizen

    • Rose Morgan- Newton County SWCD

    • Mike Babcock- Remington Parks

    • Jerry Johnson- Citizen