Pigeon Creek is located in the central portion of the county. It is the largest watershed and accounts for 120 square miles of the county’s drainage. Pigeon Creek makes up the headwaters for a significant portion of the county, therefore, maintaining its water quality is important to Steuben County and the State of Indiana.
The main channel starts in the northeastern portion of the county east of Fremont. It drains southwest passing through the town of Pleasant Lake and then turns northwest exiting the county just north of US HWY 20 into LaGrange County. It then drains into the St. Joe River, which flows through Elkhart, Indiana, and outlets into Lake Michigan. The watershed contains the “Chain of Lakes”: Long Lake; Golden Lake; Big and Little Bower Lake; and Hogback Lake; as well as many others.
In 2004, the SWCD received an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) 319 Grant to develop a Watershed Management Plan for the Pigeon Creek Watershed. We completed the Pigeon Creek Watershed Management Plan, in partnership with Steuben County Government, in 2006. Since completing the management plan, we, in partnership with the Steuben County Government, were able to obtain and complete an IDEM 319 Phase 1 Implementation Grant and an IDEM 319 Phase 2 Implementation Grant. In 2013, the District received an IDEM 319 Phase 3 Implementation Grant and finished in 2017.
As part of the IDEM 319 Phase 3 Implementation Grant, the 2006 Pigeon Creek Watershed Management Plan was updated/revised. The revised Pigeon Creek Watershed Management Plan is the outcome of a comprehensive analysis that incorporates the 33-element checklist required by IDEM for Watershed Management Plan approval and eligibility for implementation funds under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The plan also exceeds IDEM requirements by defining implementation strategies, costs, and expected watershed benefits. Implementation strategies are directly tied to meeting the standards in the 2010 Pigeon River Total Maximum Daily Load Plan.
Total Maximum Daily Load:
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan was completed for the Pigeon Creek Watershed within Steuben and LaGrange County. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program primary purpose is to assess streams, rivers and lakes that are considered impaired by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and develop reports that identify the causes of the impairment, the reductions of pollutants needed, and the actions needed to improve water quality. Impaired waters do not meet designated water quality standards and do not support one or more designated uses, such as recreational, protection of aquatic life, drinking water, and fish consumption. Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act established authority for the TMDL Program and guides states on how to develop these plans for waters that do not meet water quality standards.
For more information about the TMDL program visit the IDEM TMDL web page.
For more information about the Indiana 303(d) list visit the IDEM 303(d) web page.