Urban Erosion Control Demonstration
Allen County, IN

Grantee: Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $13,000
Non-federal Funds: $6,027
Project Duration: 09/1993 - 08/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The St. Joseph River, a major tributary to the Maumee River supplies the City of Fort Wayne with its water supply. Each year the Fort Wayne filtration plant must remove suspended sediment and attached nutrients to supply potable drinking water for human consumption. Erosion on developing land is a significant contributor to the sediment loading.

Before channel treatment

The project was a cooperative effort between state, local and private agencies. The goal was to improve the basin's water quality by implementing erosion and sediment control demonstrations.

Land developers, in general, have a limited understanding of the soil erosion process and the available control practices to address erosion problems. Current efforts by developers to control soil erosion are primarily limited to seeding, mulching, and ineffective use of silt fences and straw bale dams. Proven practices such as sediment traps and basins along with other low cost erosion and sediment control practices are relatively new concepts to northeastern Indiana. This project proposed to: 1) develop stormwater control demonstration sites; 2) provide financial assistance (via cost-share program) to implement innovative erosion, sediment and stormwater control practices that are not commonly utilized in northeastern Indiana; and, 3) prepare a video for developers, contractors and other interested organizations and individuals on these practices.

To select a recipient for the grant cost-share assistance, the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors reviewed the responses of local partners that were contacted to participate in the project. In an effort to maintain the District's goal of selecting a site which could provide maximum longevity to the project, the District selected the Fort Wayne Christian School for the demonstration. The school had contacted the District requesting assistance with a severe erosion problem that had resulted from recent earthwork activities on land adjacent to the school.

Several erosion control practices were installed on the property including proper permanent and temporary seeding, cross-channel silt fence installation to slow the velocity of water leaving the site, placement of several types of erosion control matting, mulching, and the installation of a 75' long rock-lined channel at the outfall of the project.

As part of the seeding demonstration, the project managers tried a new approach to providing fertilization to an otherwise totally denuded site. Working in cooperation with the City of Ft. Wayne Board of Public Works nearly 450 tons of composted sewage sludge was spread on the site and incorporated prior to seeding. The compost material was an all natural source providing all necessary fertilizer requirements that dramatically enhanced the organic matter content of the soil. This increased the soil's water holding capacity, thereby providing a greater opportunity for a successful grass establishment. A small control area was left untreated to provide a comparison.

Students from the school played an active role in the project providing labor for site preparation and seeding. Teachers used the project as a learning experience for the students, instructing them on the aspects of erosion and best management practices that can be used to alleviate its effects. The school's administration offered its facility and the demonstration area for use by the District and other interested groups, such as the Fort Wayne Homebuilders Association, for use as a field day site and meeting location.

After channel treatment

Nearly seven acres of land is now adequately protected from erosion, providing 240 to 300 tons of soil erosion savings to the Great Lakes Basin and a tremendous learning opportunity for both youth and adults.

Contact: Greg Lake, (219) 422-3373


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner