Edge of Field Monitoring - Black Creek Watershed

Science Center Objects

Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana Water Science Center is monitoring the effects of best management practices (BMP's) on baseflow and storm runoff in the Black Creek watershed near Harlan, IN. We will be sampling water-quality intensively for 5 years from overland field, subsurface tile, and in-stream runoff events. Results will be used to model the effectiveness of BMP’s in reducing nutrient and sediment loading in Lake Erie.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been tasked with addressing the USEPA recommendations for nutrient loading of the Western Lake Erie basin.  Intensive monitoring of upstream contributors can help with understanding this major issue. We are monitoring storm runoff water quality in the Black Creek watershed as part of this cooperative effort.

Whait is Edge-of-Field Monitoring?

Edge-of-field monitoring sites are installed at the edge of agricultural fields, either on the field surface or using subsurface tiles, where runoff can be intercepted and channeled through monitoring equipment before it enters the natural stream system. EOF sites monitor both runoff quantity and quality.

Edge of field monitoring site near Ft. Wayne, IN
Subsurface tile and surface edge-of-field monitoring site near Ft. Wayne, IN

Background

On May 11, 2015, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) task team recommended a 40% reduction in the amount of Total Phosphorous (TP) and Dissolved Phosphorous (DRP) loading from all sources of the Western Lake Erie basin.  Water quality in Lake Erie is heavily influenced by upstream sources of nutrients and suspended sediment with streams and rivers in the drainage basin act as major contributing inlets into the lake.  Both point- and non-point sources of nutrients and suspended sediment are contributing to the eutrophication of Lake Erie and negatively impacting biological health. Eutrophication occurs when a water body receives too many nutrients which causes excessive growth of plants like algae. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is working to understand the complex processes involved with nutrient loading of the Western Lake Erie basin.  Intensive monitoring of upstream contributors, such as nutrient runoff from agricultural practices, can help with understanding this major issue.

Aerial view of the Black Creek watershed showing the west and east gages
Aerial view of the Black Creek watershed showing the location of the west and east gages.

What are We Doing?

We are providing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) with data from intensive water-quality sampling of the Black Creek watershed in the Lake Erie drainage basin. The data we collect will be used to monitor and model the effects of best management practices (BMP's) on baseflow and storm runoff in the Black Creek Watershed. We will monitor for two years before changes in the BMP's occur; we will continue to monitor the effects of the new BMP's for another three years.

We have installed

  • field overland runoff and subsurface tile drain monitoring sites to sample storm runoff in crop fields East and West of Bull Rapids road near Harlan, IN.
  • meteorological station to monitor weather and soil physical characteristics in West field.
  • stream gage in Black Creek near Harlan, IN
  • YSI EXO water-quality sonde in Black Creek near Harlan, IN

Field and sites have fix-mounted cameras to help with monitoring conditions. The meteorological station in the west field measures air temperature, relative humidity, and solar radiation. Soil moisture, conductance,  and temperature sensors have been installed at various soil depths at the meteorological station.