The Otter Creek Project

In 2015, the Ouabache Land Conservancy launched efforts to protect and improve Otter Creek and its 124 square mile drainage. Otter Creek originates in northern Clay County flowing southwest to North Terre Haute where it enters the Wabash River. The drainage flows 220 miles and covers portions of Clay, Parke and Vigo Counties including North Terre Haute, Seelyville, Rosedale, Brazil, Carbon, and Sand Cut.

What is a watershed?

The Otter Creek Project focuses on protecting and improving water quality in Otter Creek’s watershed. All of the land from which water drains into a singular waterbody – in this case Otter Creek – forms a watershed. These drainage boundaries are determined by land elevation rather than state or county lines, political boundaries, or residential property lines.

About Otter Creek

Land within the Otter Creek Watershed is a mix of forested and agricultural land uses with urban development focused around North Terre Haute and Brazil with smaller urban communities dotted across the watershed landscape. Tributaries to Otter Creek include the North Branch Otter Creek, Waterworks Creek, Sulphur Creek, Little Creek, Cox Ditch, Swope Ditch and Gundy Ditch. The headwaters of Otter Creek contain wide forested buffers with little riparian cover; however, as the stream flows from Clay and Parke counties into Vigo County, Otter Creek and its tributaries become more channelized with narrow stream buffers and greater urban and agricultural impacts. Streams within the watershed contain elevated pathogen levels with high nutrient and sediment loads identified at select locations throughout the watershed.

The Otter Creek Project

This phase of the Otter Creek Project includes three main goals:

  1. Water Quality Monitoring: Water quality within Otter Creek and its tributaries will be monitored once per month throughout the lifetime of the grant. Samples will be collected for a variety of nutrient and sediment parameters and combined with historic water quality data. This compilation will provide a foundation for identifying water quality issues and probable sources of pollutants. The baseline will also provide a foundation for measuring future changes in water quality.

  2. Education and outreach: The Otter Creek Project will engage youth and adults through Hoosier Riverwatch monitoring; a tour of the Indiana American Water treatment plant; workshops focused on forest management, septic maintenance and agricultural practices to improve water quality; and more.
  3. Watershed Management Plan: The Otter Creek Project  will connect stakeholder concerns with water quality and computer generated data to develop a step-wise plan for protecting and improving Otter Creek, its landscape and its water quality. The planning process will include regularly-schedule steering committee meetings with draft plans posted for review.

Join the Otter Creek Project

  • Join our volunteer list to help with future water sampling, windshield surveys, clean up events and more.
  • Become a Hoosier Riverwatch volunteer monitor – Are you interested in becoming a volunteer monitor? Contact Sara to learn about fall 2018 training options.
  • Share your thoughts on Otter Creek with Sara via email or phone 765-337-9100.
  • Send us data or photographs – how did Otter Creek and its tributaries look in the past? 
  • Share information about the Otter Creek Project with your friends, neighbors and local groups. We’d be happy to talk with you and your group about the project.