Purdue University and their partners are working throughout the St. Marys River Watershed to develop strong and productive partnerships with producers and conservation groups. This watershed-wide effort serves as a foundation for a paired watershed monitoring project focused on Nickelsen Creek and Weber Ditch subwatersheds.

Building a Foundation: To move water quality in the St. Marys Watershed forward, a strong foundation must be laid. The St. Marys Watershed Initiative will catalog on-going water quality monitoring locations and create a water quality database; map current watershed conditions; and document on-the-ground conservation efforts. Social surveys and interviews of producers, conservation practitioners and Certified Crop Advisors working throughout the watershed will catalog current education levels, document existing education and outreach efforts, and identify areas for future watershed-wide outreach targeting.

Monitoring Soil Health: A better understanding of St. Marys Watershed soils is needed to determine the ability of future best management practice implementation efforts to impact soil health and St. Marys Watershed and Western Lake Erie Basin water quality. Monitoring St. Marys soils will assist with identifying key soil response variables within the basin, assist with defining soil variations and identify the link between field and soil processes and stream water quality. The connections between conservation techniques and soil health will be evaluated to determine leaching impacts and fundamental soil processes within the St. Marys Watershed.

Cataloging Current In-stream Conditions: Water quality and quantity trend monitoring will be conducted within paired watersheds to determine the effectiveness of implemented best management practices on the field and watershed scale. Monthly stream and tile water chemistry and twice annual biological assessments of fish and macroinvertebrate communities and instream habitat will provide a better understanding of the effects of improving water quality and biological integrity while helping guide management decisions and estimate the length of time required to positively impact the St. Marys Watershed and Western Lake Erie Basin.