Blogging BMP’s

A monthly Blog discussing the Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that must be used to aid in erosion and sediment control

Welcome back to another edition of Blogging BMP’s! I did not write a blog post last month, so I have had a little extra time to consider what I would like to cover in this edition.  In that time I have looked at the stormwater topic from many different angles. 

Angle 1: I took my family to Silver Beach at the mouth of the St. Joseph River and explained to my 6 year old daughter that the same water that flows through the ditch behind our house travels to the lake we are standing in.  At first it didn’t make much sense, but when we got in the car and passed over the river she had a true “lightbulb” moment. Then we crossed the river again, not only in St. Joseph, Michigan, but a couple more times on the way home. She realized that water travels, but also realized that things travel with it.  Everything that goes into our waterways could eventually end up where she loves to swim and that gave her an uneasy feeling. 

Angle 2:  I spent a day with some colleagues at Bonneyville Mill County Park going through Hoosier Riverwatch training.  This program is open to anyone that is interested in monitoring our waterways, on a voluntary basis, through some fairly simple testing and data collection.  That data is all collected on IDEM’s website and reviewed to see how healthy our waterways are.  I was pleased to see that there are programs in place that give anyone (that goes through a days training) the opportunity to take action and produce data that backs up, or refutes, complaints that they may have about our waterways.

Angle 3:  I have spent dozens of hours walking on construction sites with contractors, engineers, county officials, and business owners the last couple of months.  The biggest misconception most people have is that stormwater management is strictly practiced for the sake of our floodplain. In northern Indiana, flooding is definitely a concern for many people so I can see why that would be the first thing to come to mind.  The truth is, stormwater is the number one threat to our waterways because it carries so many pollutants with it, mostly sediment from our farm fields and construction sites.

Angle 4: I spent a day with 120 eighth grade students from Northrige Middle School in the little Elkhart River looking for macro invertibrates.  For those who do not know, these little spineless critters (the macros, not the students) are a great “bio-indicator” of how clean our waterways are. Once the students were able to get used to the cooler water temperatures of the spring fed river, they really enjoyed finding things in the water that they had no idea existed. They were surprised to find out that if our waters became polluted, all those macro-invertibrates could be in danger of losing their habitat.

To tie this all up in a nice bow, the point I want to make is that we can read all of the books and articles we want about climate change, flooding, pollution and what needs to be done to “fix” the problem, but the reality is, just getting out to the beach, county park, construction site, and river can show you what we are truly up against and what we are at risk of losing.  Take some time before it gets too cold and find a way that you, an individual, can experience the beauty Elkhart County and the St. Joseph River watershed has to offer, and ways you can make a positive impact for now and the future.