Whitewater River WMP 3-119
The Whitewater River Watershed is a 159,907 acre watershed located in portions of Dearborn County, Franklin County, Ripley County, Butler County (OH), and Hamilton County (OH). There are approximately 487 miles of streams in the watershed, of which 42% are perennial and 58% are intermittent. Primary and use types in the watershed include cultivated crops (29%), pasture and hay (19%), and forest (39%). Roughly 49% of the watershed is classified as highly erodible and is at a severe risk for erosion.
Due to increasing community concern over several of the streams in the Whitewater Watershed, the Dearborn County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) began searching for partners and ways to implement action and change into the watershed. With support from the Butler, Franklin, and Hamilton County SWCDs, Dearborn County SWCD applied for and was awarded a 319 grant to develop a watershed management plan (WMP) and an education/outreach program. The 319 grant for the Whitewater River Watershed Project began in November 2013. IDEM conducted the water quality sampling for the project in conjunction with the development of the Southern Whitewater Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report.
Based on water quality sampling conducted by IDEM and the watershed project and the watershed inventories conducted during the Whitewater River watershed project, E. coli, sedimentation, excess nutrients, dissolved oxygen, impaired biotic communities, and trash were identified as water quality problems in the watershed. The Whitewater River Watershed has 23 stream segments listed on the 303 (d) list of impaired streams as impaired for E. coli (205 stream miles), impaired biological communities (IBC) (31 stream miles), dissolved oxygen (DO) (70 stream miles), PCBs in fish tissue (38 stream miles), and mercury in fish tissue (34 stream miles) on Indiana’s Draft 2016 303(d) list. Even though some of the stream segments are listed as impaired, the watershed also has streams that are home to threatened fish species such as the Variegate Darter and the Redside Dace. The Whitewater River Watershed is also used heavily during the recreational season for fishing and canoeing by people all over Indiana and Ohio.
The WMP is a strategy for achieving water quality goals by characterizing the watershed, setting goals and actions steps, and developing an implementation plan to address documented problems. The Whitewater River WMP meets the requirements of IDEM’s 2009 Watershed Management Plan Checklist and was approved by IDEM and EPA in August 2016.