Elkhart River

HUC: The Elkhart River is composed of five 10-digit HUC watersheds: 0405000122, 0405000118, 0405000119, 0405000118, 0405000118 (what is a Hydrologic Unit Code HUC?)

Area: 447,452 acres or 699.144 square miles

The Elkhart River Watershed is the largest subwatershed of the St. Joe River Watershed and drains portions of four counties: Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, and Noble covering just over 699 square miles via 928 miles of ditches, creeks, and rivers. Land use varies throughout the Watershed but is primarily row crops (e.g., corn and soybeans) covering 60% or 415.85 square miles, forested land or wetlands covering 18% or 124.06 square miles, urban areas covering 12% or 86.42 square miles, pasture lands covering 8% or 54.76 square miles, and open water covering 2% or 16.91 square miles (land cover information based on the 2016 land cover data provided by the National Land Cover Database run by the United States Geological Survey (USGS)). The Elkhart River has water quality issues like many other waterways throughout the country. A 2008 Watershed Management Plan completed by the Elkhart River Restoration Association (ERRA) found the three primary sources of non-point source pollutants in the Elkhart River were sediment, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and E. coli bacteria. Additionally, it is known that stormwater runoff from urban areas is the only growing source of non-point source pollution. There are four municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) communities draining to the Elkhart River and each of these communities is working to prevent stormwater pollution. However, it has also been established that the Elkhart River Watershed overall is in good health (North Branch Elkhart River – SJRBC and City of Elkhart Aquatic Biology). Furthermore, the ERRA has been working over the past two years to update the watershed management plan for the upper and lower sections of the Watershed.

What’s going on in the Elkhart River Watershed?

Get involved in efforts to protect the Elkhart River Watershed by learning more and having fun.

Elkhart River Restoration Association

The Elkhart River Restoration Association, Inc. was founded in 1983 to study the needs of the Elkhart River and its watershed…

SJRBC North Branch of Elkhart River study

The St. Joseph River Basin Commission hired Christopher B. Burke Engineering to develop a flood risk management plan…

City of Elkhart Aquatic Biology Program

The Aquatics Program is a joint effort between the Cities of Elkhart and South Bend to evaluate the health of the St…

How’s the water?

There are many ways that water quality can be tracked. Check out these helpful websites to look at data relating to water quality.

Watershed Partners