Sedimentation into Lake TippecanoeThe Tippecanoe [River] Watershed Foundation (TWF), recently renamed The Watershed Foundation, was created in 1997 by a group of lake property owners concerned about water quality issues who realized that treating the symptoms of water pollution was not a cost effective way to protect and enhance their lake community.

Instead, a larger vision – a focus on stopping pollution at its source throughout the entire watershed – was needed.

TWF has been successful in obtaining grants and raising the necessary funds for scientific research studies and construction of more than 100 water quality improvement projects in the watershed.

The Foundation focuses on stopping pollution at its source (on the land) before it reaches our waters. TWF spends a lot of time locating problem areas and then talking to landowners about ways to protect our water quality.  Since seventy-five percent of the land in the watershed is agricultural, TWF works a lot with farmers. Agricultural solutions include planting over crops in the winter, utilizing no-till farming and reducing the phosphorus, nitrogen and manure applied on farmland. Residential solutions include phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer, maintaining septic systems, not feeding waterfowl, and installing healthy shorelines. The results are fewer chemicals, silt and E. coli flowing into our lakes – which leads to a reduction in the algae and exotic weeds that turn into the silt that fills in our lake bottoms. These are just some of the water quality improvement projects that TWF is constantly working on.

These projects have long-term benefits for the landowners and our community. Farmers are improving their soil health and gaining better crop production with less cost. Residents are learning more about conservation and how they can help make a difference from educational programs sponsored by TWF.  Studies over the past several years have demonstrated an overall improvement in the water quality of the streams feeding our lakes.  

But there is more to do – lots more – and TWF has a plan for accomplishing additional water quality goals.

Projects aimed at keeping pollution out of our waterways will provide a long-term benefit to our lakes and watershed. Reducing or reversing the effects of pollution in our lakes and rivers may not be done in our lifetime; it may take generations. But the larger the problem gets before we address it, the more costly it will be to fix, and the longer it will take to restore. The sooner we act to reverse these conditions, the greater our likelihood of measurable success.