Watershed Management

In collaboration with numerous partners, affiliates and citizens, the LaPorte County Soil & Water Conservation District has developed and assists in the implementation of several state-approved watershed management plans within LaPorte County, including those for the Trail Creek Watershed and the Galena River Watershed.  In 2013 work began on developing a comprehensive state-approved management plan for the Kankakee River Watershed, addressing the southern portion of the County.

What is a watershed? 

A watershed is the land area that water flows across on its way to a stream, river or lake.

All landscapes are made up of many interconnected drainage basins, or “watersheds.”  Within each watershed, all water runs to the lowest point — a stream, river or lake.  On its way, water travels over the surface and across the farm fields, forest land, lawns and city streets.  Or it seeps into the soil and travels below as groundwater.

Large watersheds like those of the Mississippi River, Columbia River and Chesapeake Bay are made up of numerous smaller watersheds across many states.

What is a watershed?
credit: Forest Service/USDA, “Getting to Know Your Watershed”

LaPorte County Watersheds

LaPorte County is located within two major watersheds of the United States.  The northern third of the County is within the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan) watershed; the southern portion of the County is within the Mississippi River (Kankakee River) watershed.

Precipitation that falls north of the County watershed divide flows north to Lake Michigan — and eventually out to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Water south of the divide line flows south to the Kankakee River — and eventually out to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River.

credit: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service “Watershed Connections” WAT-3

All large watersheds are comprised of smaller, more-localized watersheds.  The portion of the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan) watershed located within LaPorte County is comprised of three (3) individual smaller watersheds:

  1. Trail Creek Watershed (includes the municipalities of Michigan City, Pottwattomie Park, Trail Creek, Coolspring and Springfield Townships)
  2. Galena River Watershed (includes Galena and Hudson Townships, into Berrien County, MI)
  3. Little Calumet River Watershed (includes small southwest portion of Coolspring township, into Porter County, IN)

Why watershed management?

Water is a vital resource for all citizens of LaPorte County.  Water is essential for agriculture and industry, as well as for recreation and drinking.  68% of the population in LaPorte County uses ground water (wells) for drinking, washing, and other needs.  A healthy environment and economy requires clean water and healthy watersheds.

Comprehensive watershed management is important because everything that is done on the land within a watershed area directly affects the quality of the water of the lake or river into which it drains.  The quantity and quality of our water is affected no only by what might be dumped in the river, but by everything we do on the land in the watershed.