Ditch easements need vegetation



    • We received support letters from Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, Upper Maumee Watershed Partnership, Indiana Forester, Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council and others to increase riparian buffers at headwater streams.  Trees planted on riparian buffer areas help decrease streambank erosion, reduce nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus to help improve water quality all the way from Allen County’s ditches, all the way to Lake Erie.



  • Indiana Drainage Handbook suggests ONLY ONE SIDE of a ditch’s vegetation to be removed in usual situations, NOT BOTH!  http://www.in.gov/dnr/water/4893.htm
    Section:2.3-3 – One sided construction – entire area below the banks one side of the stream or open drain.

    • Section:2.36 – Overviews of the Agency Application Review Process [Save Maumee Projects are protected by the Flood Control Act (most floodways) and Navigable Waterways Act (where applicable)]
    • Section 5.3 – Debrushing – “Vegetation is probably the single most important component of wildlife habitat.  Deep rooted native plants) grasses, shrubs and trees_ are usually the most economical means of bank stabilization and erosion control.  Therefore, extensive use of debrushing should be reserved only where such activity is absolutely needed for maintaining access, maintaining the flow capacity and conveyance or selectively controlling nuisance species.”
    • 5.5 The cost is less – “single bank modification that has modification is less costly.”5.6 Channel Excavation/Dredging “The overbank excavation involves the least amount of disturbance to be the channel and the natural habitat associated with it. However, it sometimes impacts the riparian habitat where excavation is occurring and will also normally require some degree of mitigation.”
    • In certain conditions, especially in regularly maintained, man-made drainage ditches where no trees or shading vegetation currently exist along the banks (Exhibit 3.3a), working on both sides of the ditch could be considered.  However, even under these circumstances, it is recommended that the work be limited to only one side of the stream, so that permanent, shade-producing trees have a change to be established on the non-worked side.  Aside from water quality and habitat benefits, maintaining a shade canopy over the stream inhibits the growth of weeds in the streambed.  Growth of dense weeds in the stream channel slow the flow of water and promote sediment deposition in the main channel, increasing the annual maintenance costs.…stream side habitat should be preserved, and some shade retained, by limiting construction to one side of the stream (Exhibit 5.6).  When feasible, vegetative filter strips (Practice 804) should be installed along the work-side of the bank.…when compared with two-sided modification, single-bank modification has fewer adverse impacts on terrestrial wildlife habitat, through aquatic habitat is still affected.  In some instances, single-bank modification also costs less to construct and vegetate.  Therefore, all the practices provided in this section assume that the entire work will be done from one side of the channel with spoil deposited along the work side. However, when two-sided modification is considered, despite its drawbacks noted earlier, work may be done and spoil deposited on both sides of the ditch.
    • Practice 602 – Channel Excavation/Dredging – constraints – may require reconstruction of all side outlets to main stream. May negatively impact well established riparian corridor
    • Practice 102- Tree Preservation and Protection – applicable to nearly every project. Note: This practice is also included in the Indiana Erosion Control Handbook.


Studies completed to preface current water quality problems and solutions for the Maumee River that drains the Western Lake Erie Basin



    • Linking Minnesota Land Cover Changes to Drinking Water Treatment – Soil and Water Assessment Tool to assess how land use change affects water quality in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The modeled relationships between land cover change and water quality can be used by drinking water treatment plant managers to adjust treatment options and anticipate previously unforeseen changes. The forests in the source watershed can also be “valued” in terms of their ability to reduce chemical treatment costs at the drinking water facility.  https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/linking-minnesota-land-cover-changes-drinking-water-treatment

Federal Documents to Support Save Maumee’s Projects






    • Fine root dynamics, coarse root biomass, root distribution, and soil respiration in a multispecies riparian buffer in Central Iowa, USA . Article discusses roots provide important variables influencing the effectiveness of riparian buffer systems in immobilizing and processing soil water pollutants and improving soil quality.

State Research on Riparian Buffers that mirror Save Maumee’s projects

      • Fact Sheet, Water Quality Buffer Initiative 2015 – new laws that require buffers on all public waters and public drainage systems. The DNR will establish and maintain a map of each county that shows the waters that are subject to the buffer requirements. http://mn.gov/gov-stat/images/2015_buffers_fact_sheet.pdf


      • Riparian forest buffers are being planted around Maryland with the intent of improving water quality and habitat for living resources, spurred by the State’s commitment in 1996 to plant 600 miles of new buffers by 2010. Article also discusses tree survival rates of their trees in riparian buffers. http://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Documents/rfb_survival.pdf



      • Trees take up great amounts of water through their roots and evaporate it into the air. This usage and retention of water reduces flooding. Forest soils act as high reservoirs for ground water, releasing it slowly, even during periods of low rainfall, The forest floor acts as a natural sponge because of the large soil pore spaces, thus keeping soils or contaminants from entering streams. When soil filled water reaches the forest, water is quickly absorbed and the soil particles are deposited there. This effective infiltration system reduces overland flow leaving little chance of erosion. Maryland Department of Natural Resources. http://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/programapps/treesforsheds.aspx


      • Chesapeake Bay has launched their own Riparian Forest Buffer projects and they keep close track of how much has been increased!  We want to see all the protections around Allen County too! Success stories from across the State of Virginia. http://chesapeakeforestbuffers.net


    • Riparian Buffer Acquisition Program can likely be designed to satisfy water quality protection objectives in concert with municipal recreation goals, landowner satisfaction, and – critically – the many external rules imposed upon the subject program. Review of several riparian buffer programs from around the country suggests that significant water quality protection can be achieved by acquiring real property interests on riparian lands. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“NYCDEP”) and is intended to provide permanent land protection to riparian buffers in order to promote water quality in New York City’s West-of-Hudson Watershed. It includes recommended program methods and procedures, policy recommendations, and landowner incentives for implementation.

Contributing Factors to Drainage Problems

July 2017 Report on Indiana blue-green algae report from IDEM for high bacteria count in State’s surface water. http://www.in.gov/idem/algae/…