St. Joseph Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04050001

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Watershed Overview

The St. Joseph River watershed is located in the southwest portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and the northwestern portion of Indiana. It spans the Michigan-Indiana border and drains into Lake Michigan at St. Joseph, Michigan.

71% of the watershed’s 4,694 square miles is farmland and spans across 15 counties (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren in Michigan and De Kalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Noble, St. Joseph and Steuben in Indiana).

The watershed includes 3,742 river miles and flows through and near the Kalamazoo-Portage, the Elkhart-Goshen, the South Bend and the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor metropolitan areas.

Between the years of 1996 and 2001, there has been a slight increase in developed land and a slight decrease in farmland, grassland, forest, and wetlands.

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Watershed Activities

The Friends of the St. Joe River developed a bi-state plan that unites stakeholders in both Michigan and Indiana in a concerted effort to address water quality issues and natural resource protection across jurisdictional boundaries. All data compiled and reports generated as part of the planning project are available on the project [www.stjoeriver.net website]. Watershed Concerns include erosion, sediments, nutrients, habitat Loss, wetlands, animal waste, pesticides, urbanization & land use, biota, CSO's, pathogens, hydrologic modification, and litter. The St. Joseph watershed project has generated maps of subwatersheds, cities; USGS water resources stations, digital elevations, wetlands, river valley segments, land use, average annual precipitation, 1950-1999, designated trout streams, geological features, and soils. The St. Joseph River Basin Commission holds an annual St. Joseph River Symposium.

In an effort to fulfill Goal #1 of the St. Joseph River Watershed Management Plan: Establish and sustain the financial and institutional capacity of a stakeholder group (e.g., steering committee, joint basin commission, watershed council, Friends of the St. Joe River Association) that assumes responsibility for coordinating implementation of the management plan and acts as the primary advocacy group, information clearinghouse, and planning partner for the watershed. FOTSJR has been re-writing existing by-laws, defining an expanded mission, modifying the existing FOTSJR board, establishing new committee structures, and working on member recruitment.

Surface Water Designated Use Targets include:

  • Warm and cold water fisheries
  • Other indigenous aquatic life/wildlife
  • Partial body contact, recreation
  • Full body contact, recreation (May - October)
  • Navigation
  • Public Water Supply: Surface Intake Point
  • Industrial Water Supply
  • Agriculture
  • Certain water bodies are also protected as a coldwater fishery

Additional Basin Designated Use Targets

  • Groundwater
  • Habitat preservation
  • Increased public access (to the river/streams)
  • Archeological preservation
  • Preserve agricultural uses and access
  • Preserve open space
  • Greenways
  • Public water trails
  • Watershed linkages
  • Manage invasive species

The most significant water quality problem in Lake George is excess sediment, much of it from severely eroding shorelines.

Watershed Groups


For more information, see the USEPA “Surf Your Watershed” website for the St Joseph Watershed or contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment at 517-335-6969 to request a copy of the following reports:

  • MI/DEQ/WB-07/048, “A Biological Survey of Sites in the Upper St. Joseph River Watershed Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph Counties Michigan, Aug and Sep, 2005”
  • MI/DEQ/WB-07/085, “A Biological Survey of Sites in the Lower St. Joseph River Watershed Berrien and Cass Counties Michigan, August 2006”
  • MI/DEQ/WB-07/08, “Biological and Water Chemistry Surveys of Selected Stations in the Paw Paw River Watershed, Van Buren and Berrien Counties, Michigan, July, Aug, and Sept 2006”.

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool for the St Joseph Watershed. This site has interactive watershed-based information on industrial facilities discharge sites, toxic release inventory, permit compliance system, water quality stations, bacteria stations, national sediment inventory stations, best management practices, water quality observation stations, weather data stations, impaired waters (reach and area), landcover change (1992-2001), landuse 2001, soil, and elevation.

Watershed Management Plans

  • Baugo Creek, St. Joseph and Elkhart Co. — St. Joseph River Basin Commission/MACOG
  • Dowagiac River — Cass Conservation District
  • Elkhart River — Elkhart River Restoration Association/Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Heaton Lake, Elkhart Co. — Elkhart County Commissioners
  • Hodunk-Messenger Chain of Lakes — Branch County Conservation District
  • Hog Creek — Hillsdale Conservation District
  • Juday Creek, St. Joseph Co. — St. Joseph County Drainage Board
  • Little Elkhart River — LaGrange Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Nottawa Creek — Calhoun Conservation District
  • Paw Paw River — Southwest Michigan Planning Commission
  • Pigeon Creek River — Steuben County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Portage, Davis & Gourdneck Creeks — City of Portage
  • Portage River — Kalamazoo County Road Commission
  • Rocky River — St. Joseph Conservation District
  • St. Joseph River — Friends of the St. Joseph River Association
  • Swan Creek — Branch County Conservation District

Watershed Data and Information

USGS Water Resources Links for: 04050001 - St. Joseph

USGS State Information and Contacts:

Current Water Data:

All Water Data (Current and Historic Sites):

Other Data Links:

Current Regional/National Conditions:

Search USGS for Links, Publications and Web Sites Associated with:


EPA Links for the St. Joseph - HUC 04050001:


Impaired (303d) Waters

A listing of impaired waters can be found on the U.S. EPA's website for the St Joseph Watershed

StJoe303d.jpg

Subwatersheds for the St. Joseph River Watershed

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Information on other Lake Michigan subwatersheds can be found at Lake Michigan Subwatershed Information

HUC Watershed Name
04050001 0101 Carpenter Lake-South Branch Hog Creek
04050001 0102 Duck Lake-South Branch Hog Creek
04050001 0103 Tallhassee Drain
04050001 0104 Coldwater Lake
04050001 0105 Marble Lake
04050001 0106 East Branch Sauk River
04050001 0107 Blackhawk Millpond-Coldwater River
04050001 0108 Mud Creek
04050001 0109 South Branch Hog Creek
04050001 0110 Hog Creek
04050001 0111 Coldwater River
04050001 0201 Beebe Lake-Beebe Creek
04050001 0202 Beebe Creek
04050001 0203 Soap Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 0204 Sand Creek
04050001 0205 Soap Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 0206 Old Homer Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 0207 Tekonsha Creek
04050001 0208 Wilder Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 0209 Burnett Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 0301 Nottawa Lake-Nottawa Creek
04050001 0302 Mud Creek-Nottawa Creek
04050001 0303 Alder Creek
04050001 0304 Pine Creek
04050001 0305 Bear Creek
04050001 0306 Nottawa Creek
04050001 0401 Corey Lake-Swan Creek
04050001 0402 Little Swan Creek
04050001 0403 Spencer Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 0404 Swan Creek
04050001 0405 Mud Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 0406 Sturgeon Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 0501 Headwaters Portage River
04050001 0502 Gourdneck Creek
04050001 0503 Portage Creek
04050001 0504 Butternut Creek-Bear Creek
04050001 0505 Indian Lake-Portage River
04050001 0506 Portage River
04050001 0601 Upper Flowerfield Creek
04050001 0602 Middle Flowerfield Creek
04050001 0603 Pickerel Lake-Rocky River
04050001 0604 Flowerfield Creek
04050001 0605 Four County Drain-Rocky River
04050001 0606 Rocky River
04050001 0701 Headwaters Prairie River
04050001 0702 Gilead Lake-Prairie River
04050001 0703 Stewart Lake Drain-Prairie River
04050001 0704 Prairie River Lake-Prairie River
04050001 0705 Spring Creek
04050001 0706 Templare Lake-Prairie River
04050001 0707 Prairie River
04050001 0801 Snow Lake
04050001 0802 Tamarack Lake
04050001 0803 Lake James-Crooked Creek
04050001 0804 Town of Orland-Fawn River
04050001 0805 Himebaugh Drain-Fawn River
04050001 0806 Clear Lake-Fawn River
04050001 0807 Wegner Ditch-Fawn River
04050001 0808 Sherman Mill Creek
04050001 0809 Fawn River
04050001 0901 Headwaters Little Portage Creek
04050001 0902 Little Portage Creek
04050001 0903 Sturgis Dam-St Joseph River
04050001 0904 City of Florence-St Joseph River
04050001 1001 Pigeon Lake-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1002 Mud Creek-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1003 Long Lake-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1004 Headwaters Turkey Creek
04050001 1005 Big Turkey Lake-Turkey Creek
04050001 1006 Silver Lake-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1007 Otter Lake-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1008 Little Turkey Lake-Turkey Creek
04050001 1009 Green Lake-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1010 Mongo Millpond-Pigeon Creek
04050001 1101 East Fly Creek
04050001 1102 Fly Creek
04050001 1103 Cline Lake-Pigeon River
04050001 1104 Buck Lake-Buck Creek
04050001 1105 Page Ditch
04050001 1106 VanNatta Ditch-Pigeon River
04050001 1107 Pigeon River
04050001 1201 Emma Lake-Emma Ditch
04050001 1202 Little Elkhart River Ditch
04050001 1203 Rowe Eden Ditch
04050001 1204 Mather Ditch-Little Elkhart River
04050001 1205 Duck Lake-Little Elkhart River
04050001 1301 Headwaters Mill Creek
04050001 1302 Wood Lake-Mill Creek
04050001 1303 Trout Creek
04050001 1304 Black Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 1305 York Township Ditch-St Joseph River
04050001 1401 Headwaters Christiana Creek
04050001 1402 Diamond Lake-Christiana Creek
04050001 1403 Christiana Creek
04050001 1501 Tamarack Lake-Little Elkhart Creek
04050001 1502 Dallas Lake-Little Elkhart Creek
04050001 1503 Oliver Lake-Little Elkhart Creek
04050001 1504 Waterhouse Ditch-Henderson Lake Ditch
04050001 1505 Oviate Ditch-Middle Branch Elkhart River
04050001 1506 Jones Lake-North Branch Elkhart River
04050001 1507 Huston Ditch-North Branch Elkhart River
04050001 1601 Rivir Lake-Forker Creek
04050001 1602 Winebrenner Branch-Carrol Creek
04050001 1603 Skinner Lake-Croft Ditch
04050001 1604 Muncie Lake-South Branch Elkhart River
04050001 1605 Diamond Lake-South Branch Elkhart River
04050001 1701 Village Lake-Turkey Creek
04050001 1702 Lake Wawasee-Turkey Creek
04050001 1703 Wabee Lake-Hammond Ditch
04050001 1704 Hoopingarner Ditch-Turkey Creek
04050001 1705 Coppes Ditch-Turkey Creek
04050001 1706 Berlin Court Ditch
04050001 1707 Omar Neff Ditch-Turkey Creek
04050001 1708 Dausman Ditch-Turkey Creek
04050001 1709 Swoveland Ditch-Turkey Creek
04050001 1801 Phillips Ditch-Stony Creek
04050001 1802 Indian Lake-Elkhart River
04050001 1803 Headwaters Solomon Creek
04050001 1804 Hire Ditch-Solomon Creek
04050001 1805 Whetten Ditch-Elkhart River
04050001 1901 Hoover Ditch-Rock Run Creek
04050001 1902 Horn Ditch-Rock Run Creek
04050001 1903 Headwaters Yellow Creek
04050001 1904 Goshen Dam Pond-Elkhart River
04050001 2001 Washington Tap Ditch-St Joseph River
04050001 2002 Pine Creek
04050001 2003 Puterbaugh Creek
04050001 2004 Sheep Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 2101 Grimes Ditch
04050001 2102 Wisler Ditch-Baugo Creek
04050001 2103 Township Ditch-Baugo Creek
04050001 2104 Rogers Ditch-Baugo Creek
04050001 2201 Cebas Creek
04050001 2202 City of Elkhart-St Joseph River
04050001 2203 Eller Ditch-St Joseph River
04050001 2204 Willow Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 2205 Auten Ditch-St Joseph River
04050001 2206 Juday Creek
04050001 2207 Pinhook Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 2208 Dutch Corners-St Joseph River
04050001 2209 Brandywine Creek
04050001 2210 City of Niles-St Joseph River
04050001 2301 Spring Creek-Dowagiac River
04050001 2302 Silver Creek
04050001 2303 Bunker Lake-Dowagiac Creek
04050001 2304 La Grange Lake-Dowagiac Creek
04050001 2305 Indian Lake-Dowagiac River
04050001 2306 Pokagon Creek
04050001 2307 Peavine Creek-Dowagiac River
04050001 2308 Dowagiac River
04050001 2401 Lawton Drain-South Branch Paw Paw River
04050001 2402 East Branch Paw Paw River
04050001 2403 Campbell Creek-North Branch Paw Paw River
04050001 2404 Chase Lake-Brandywine Creek
04050001 2405 South Branch Paw Paw River
04050001 2406 North Branch Paw Paw River
04050001 2501 Brush Creek
04050001 2502 Headwaters Paw Paw River
04050001 2503 Mud Lake Drain
04050001 2504 Paw Paw River above Mud Lake Drain
04050001 2505 Paw Paw Lake
04050001 2506 Mill Creek
04050001 2507 Ryno Drain-Paw Paw River
04050001 2508 Blue Creek-Paw Paw River
04050001 2509 Paw Paw River
04050001 2601 McCoy Creek
04050001 2602 Webster Lake-St Joseph River
04050001 2603 Lake Chapin-St Joseph River
04050001 2604 Love Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 2605 Lemon Creek-St Joseph River
04050001 2606 Pipestone Creek
04050001 2607 Hickory Creek
04050001 2608 Outlet St Joseph River