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The Mission

The St. Joseph River Basin Commission exists to conserve, enhance, and promote the natural resources and benefits of the Watershed for present and future generations by providing vision, leadership and means.

The Commission

Efforts to improve natural resources in the St. Joseph River began in the 1980s, with a project to establish a network of fish ladders along the St. Joseph River. The ladders would allow salmon and trout to move from Lake Michigan as far as 63 miles upstream through several communities in Michigan and Indiana. The project required cooperation and funding from the DNR in both states. When the final ladder was completed in 1992 it marked the first time two states had worked together to successfully implement a fish passage project at this scale.

While the interstate fish passage project was increasing recreational opportunities on the St. Joseph River, local health departments and the State of Indiana were learning that the river did not meet water quality standards for full body contact recreation. High levels of bacteria and pathogens associated with untreated sewage and manure runoff were the likely causes. Local leaders recognized the need to improve water quality in order to realize the recreational and economic potential of the river. Using other existing River Basin Commissions as a model, the Indiana State Legislature created the St. Joseph River Basin Commission in 1988 to improve water quality through planning and increased coordination of local government.

The Commission continues its work today by providing technical assistance, studies, demonstration projects and information sharing opportunities for local governments. The Commission also serves as a liaison between federal and state water resource agencies and local land and water managers. The Commission is currently headquartered in the offices of the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) in South Bend, Indiana. An ongoing partnership between the two agencies exists through a cooperative agreement.

The Basin