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In 1995 of group of concerned citizens formed a watershed committee to focus their attention on the Middle Fork Reservoir’s Watershed (HUCs 05080003-070-030 and 05080003-070-040). This 50 square mile area of land is a multi-state watershed located in Wayne and Randolph Counties in Indiana and Drake and Preble Counties in Ohio. The health of the reservoir is vital as it provides more than 50 percent of the city of Richmond’s drinking water. In 1999 the committee applied for and received a Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Grant to hire a part-time technician and provide cost-share money for landowners making improvements to their land. The group decided that they would like to gather additional information about the watershed to sharpen their focus. Through the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) they applied for and were awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 319 grant to continue public outreach and create a management plan for the Middle Fork of the East Fork of the Whitewater River Watershed. The project steering committee reorganized as Friends of the Middle Fork, hired a project coordinator to help carry out the project in September 2002.
Water monitoring conducted during the initial 319-grant phase flagged sedimentation rates, E. coli, nutrient, and Atrazine contamination has major concerns which will be addressed during Phase II of the project. Phase II will be funded through a second Section 319 grant which will fund implementation of the management plan through the fall of 2006.
Stakeholders have played a vital role in the creation of the management plan by giving input at public meeting and attending other watershed events. This is important because the second phase will rely on landowners’ willingness to implement conservation projects on their properties to improve local water quality.
Copies of the management plan will be available for viewing at the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District office and at Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond. Interested citizens can also obtain a personal copy of the management plan by contacting the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District.