St. Joseph River (Michigan, Indiana)
Project Status: modeling
The St. Joseph River is a tributary to Lake Michigan and discharges
at St. Joseph, Michigan. The river basin contains eight sub-watersheds,
including Prairie River, Coldwater River, Fawn River, Pigeon River,
Little Elkhart River, Elkhart River, Dowagiac River, and Paw Paw River.
It's watershed drains approximately 4,685 square miles, including portions
of counties within Indiana and Michigan.
The St. Joseph River watershed is
roughly 60 percent agricultural land use, 20 percent forested, and less
than 10 percent urbanized. However, management practices within the
agricultural industry have contributed to bank erosion and sedimentation
issues within the watershed. Channelization, drainage of wetlands, and
installation of artificial drainage systems have also altered stream
temperature regimes and decreased flow stability. Most of the large
cities located within the watershed are along the mainstem of the river
and have significant effects on water quality. The lower and mouth segments
of the St. Joseph River basin are also threatened by increased development
The purpose of this study was to develop a modeling tool that could
be used by local stakeholders to minimize erosion and sediment delivered
to the St. Joseph River and, subsequently, the St. Joseph Harbor.
In this study, a model of the St. Joseph River watershed was created
using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Several
scenarios that looked at the effects of dams, tillage practices, and
the use of filter strips were developed and
modeled. A comparison was also made with historical (pre-European development)
conditions. Two-dimensional flow and sediment modeling was done for
the inner harbor using RMA-2 and SED-2D
to provide more detailed estimates of sediment movement and delivery
to the near-shore zone of Lake Michigan.
Modeling was completed in July of
2005. A training workshop for state and local partners took place in
August of 2005.
The modeling project included the development of analysis tools that
will enable the users to evaluate Best Management Practices (BMPs) to
reduce sediment transport to the lower reaches, including the navigation
channels and harbor. Several entities (watershed commissions, universities,
etc.) have expressed interest in obtaining these models for use in future
applications pertaining to the assessment of future land uses and the
development of BMPs to address these issues.
Baird & Associates
of Elkhart, Indiana
of South Bend, Indiana
of the St. Joseph River Association, Inc.
Department of Environmental Management
Department of Environmental Quality
of Natural Resources
Michiana Area Council
of Governments (MACOG)
US Environmental Protection
USDA – Natural
Resource Conservation Service
For more informationor
to obtain digital data for advanced modeling purposescontact:
James P. Selegean, P.E., Ph.D.
Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
Office: (313) 226-6791
Fax: (313) 226-2398