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Area residents near the Cordry-Sweetwater Conservancy District and the Town of Princes Lakes developed this Watershed Management Plan (WMP) to address long term water quality issues affecting their communities. A Watershed Team and Steering Committee, comprised of local residents, provided the locally based power source to drive the planning project. Public meetings provided the forum to identify water quality issues, investigate their sources and magnitude, and finally to develop long term goals and implementation solutions.
The Watershed Team decided to focus their efforts on what they perceived to be the top four threats to local water quality, these priority issues included failing septic systems, erosion & sedimentation, geese, and lawn chemicals. Volunteer water quality monitoring was conducted during the summer of 2005, using established testing protocols for lake and stream sampling. This data was used to validate and/or quantify the priority issues. Information collected during this time indicates that water quality in local streams and lakes is relatively healthy, and no testing parameters exceeded the Indiana surface water quality standards.
Since no obvious water quality impairments were identified during sampling, long term goals developed by the planning team centered on maintaining or improving current water quality conditions. Implementation items to achieve these goals targeted information sharing and accessibility, coupled with expanded water quality monitoring, as the preferred mechanisms to promote the widespread use of conservation best management practices. The planning team will be pursuing grant funding to develop these recommendations.
The North Fork Salt Creek/Sweetwater Creek watershed was selected for planning due to the interest of water quality issues among residents in the community. Because a significant portion of the population in the watershed lives along or nearby the Sweetwater Lake, many of the residents are concerned about how activities in the watersheds may affect their quality of life. This WMP was developed by a stepwise process driven by local interests to reflect the water quality concerns of local stakeholders. First, a Steering Committee comprised of five members of the community was developed to provide direction and decision-making tasks. Then, a larger, more dynamic Watershed Team was assembled from members of the community and residents of the watershed in the early stages of the project. The entire local public was invited to participate in the Plan development, with the intent of having broad representation of local interests reflected in the team composition. Once the team was assembled, the following events occurred in sequential order to develop the Plan. Quarterly Watershed Team and Steering Committee meetings provided the forum to undertake the process.