Due to high E. coli counts, sections of the Eel River and several of its tributaries were listed on Indiana’s 2006 list of “Impaired Waterbodies” published by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The Eel River and several of its tributaries were also listed as impaired in 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2004. As a result, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TDMLs) have been created for the Eel River and streams on the list. Also, the Fish Consumption Advisory (FCA) lists consumption advisories for fish caught in the Lower Eel River Watershed streams due to high levels of mercury and PCB’s found in the fish. Prompted by these listings, the Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) applied for and received a Section 319 Grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to write a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Lower Eel River Watershed.
This Watershed Management Plan is a cumulative assessment of the thoughts and findings of the Lower Eel River Steering Committee. Upon the approval of an IDEM 319 Grant, the Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District held their first public meeting regarding water quality issues in the Lower Eel River Watershed. During the meeting, several volunteers offered their time, and the Lower Eel River Steering Committee was formed. This watershed plan provides a guide for determining additional watershed concerns, educating stakeholders on the importance of protecting and improving water quality in the watershed, and a plan for improving the water quality. This plan will be updated annually to reflect changes in the watershed, updated status of work completed, and action items to be addressed. Vision and mission statements were developed to guide the steering committee in developing programs and practices to improve the water quality within the Lower Eel River Watershed.