County Surveyor, Indiana Drainage Code, &
IMPROPER STREAM MANAGEMENT
2012: Petition to
IDNR for public hearing on Hurricane Creek project FW-26927
Surveyor's application to DNR.
What actually happened.
send comments to IDEM & US Army Corps of Engineers,
& request a public hearing on Johnson County "legal drain" projects!
public notices - Central Indiana
Click to go to US Army Corps of Engineers list
Letter to US Army Corp opposing project/requesting hearing.
to US Army Corps requesting hearing on Canary Creek
Click to read the original Canary Creek project notice.
1/4/10 Letter to IDEM opposing Canary Creek work.
WORK ON LITTLE SUGAR CREEK BY SCOFFLAW COUNTY SURVEYOR,
WASTING MONEY & IMPAIRING WATER QUALITY!
WORK ON HURRICANE CREEK BY SCOFFLAW COUNTY SURVEYOR,
WASTING MONEY & EXACERBATING FLOODS IN FRANKLIN!
Letter of comment to IDEM on Draft List of Impaired Waters.
How we can change "legal drain" design, lower costs, and improve water quality in Indiana! Check out this outstanding work from THE INDIANA NATURE CONSERVANCY!
Article: Two-Stage Ditches
Article: The Nature Conservancy Completes New Drainage Ditches in Steuben County
Watch this excellent instructional video on TWO-STAGE
To Build A Better Ditch from Ravenswood Media on Vimeo.
(The original "Flood Report" starts below)
IMPROPER STREAM MANAGEMENT
(and adjacent land use)
When Johnson County was settled in the early 1800's, settlers found the landscape primarily forested, of course, and largely too boggy to farm. When a field was cleared, water would often flow in from surrounding areas. So a system of field tile and ditches was constructed for drainage.
The Johnson County Surveyor, via property taxes, collects a "ditch fund" for maintenance. Normally, one would assume, this would involve making sure small ditches flow unimpeded by occasionally dredging them or clearing brush, etc., so the runoff from farm fields and tiles can find their way to streams, which function best when they're closest to their natural state.
For some reason, these practices have been applied to natural streams such as Canary Creek and Hurricane Creek. One problem is that we have a Soil & Water Conservation District which is mismanaged. For example, they've done a lot of work on Youngs Creek issues, such as encouraging property owners to have riparian habitat - see the "normal creek" image below - on their stream banks. If asked about having riparian habitat on Hurricane Creek, they say "that's not our job." The reason being, they don't dare ruffle other "powers," particularly the guy who runs the Johnson County GOP, who is also the County Surveyor.
The City of Franklin should know about the concept of riparian buffers. It's in the city plan:
"A typical Riparian forest along a stream surrounded by farmland." CLICK HERE FOR PDF OF THIS PAGE.
OF FRANKLIN COMPREHENSIVE PLAN (Click for full document.)
RECOMMENDED FOR ADOPTION BY THE PLAN COMMISSION ON: 10/22/02
RESOLUTION NO.: 02-38
ADOPTED BY THE CITY COUNCIL ON: 11/25/02
RESOLUTION NO.: 02-12
"What is a Riparian Area?
Riparian areas are also known as stream-side forests. They are the wooded areas along rivers and streams. These areas are a complex ecosystem vital to the protection of stream and river water quality. These areas include some of the richest varieties of plants and animals in most regions.
Why are Riparian Areas Important?
Land along waterways have significant ecological and aesthetic value which enhances the natural environment of a community. The presence of riparian areas also adds value to properties with water access, as they as they are often prime locations for development.
Many communities depend upon local rivers and streams for recreation, drinking water, and natural resource areas. The loss of riparian areas along such waterways is a major cause of decreases in water quality and loss of wildlife habitat.
How are Riparian Areas Identified?
Healthy riparian areas are typically composed of large trees, woody understory trees and shrubs, and smaller flowers, grasses, and groundcovers. Well maintained and managed riparian areas are able to influence the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the stream by:
1) Providing food, shelter and natural linkages for a wide variety of plant and animal communities.
2) Shading and cooling the stream to enhance aquatic habitats.
3) Filtering sediments and pollutants, preventing them from entering the stream or waterway.
4) Stabilizing river banks and reducing bank erosion.
5) Providing flood control.
Who Regulates Riparian Areas?
In Indiana, [IDEM] has the authority to regulate riparian areas for water quality purposes. Local governments may regulate, to some extent, development or encroachment to riparian areas through planning and zoning controls.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has developed Conservation Standards for Riparian Forest Buffers (Code 391). These standards are site specific and will vary depending on the size of the waterway and floodplain. Most standards address an area ranging from 35 to 150 feet on either side of the stream.
The ideal riparian area includes three zones for management in which development
should be restricted. These zones, listed in sequence from the edge of the stream,
are as follows:
1) Undisturbed Forest - This zone is adjacent to the stream and is ideally 15’ in width. Removal of vegetation is not permitted.
2) Managed Forest - This zone is ideally 60’ in width and harvesting of older vegetation is encouraged to support better filtering/removal of nutrients through younger, faster growing vegetation.
3) Runoff Control - This zone is ideally 20’ and may be pastured, farmed for hay or mowed for recreational purposes."
Riparian Zone Management
Maryland Riparian Buffer Systems Manual.
Correll, D.L. 1997. Buffer Zones and Water Quality Protection: General Principles.
Water Quality Series: Riparian Forest Buffers
Water Quality and Wildlife Enhancement Activity – ANM05- Extending Riparian
Forest Buffers for Water Quality Protection and Wildlife Habitat
the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Water Quality
Soil Bioengineering or Streambank Restoration for Riparian Forest Buffers.
Including facts on riparian zones/woodlands & FLOOD CONTROL.
II. JOHNSON COUNTY SURVEYOR, "LEGAL DRAINS", HURRICANE & CANARY CREEKS
>>> Nov. 2009 UPDATE: "Everything you ever wanted to know about legal drains, but were afraid to ask." History, laws, taxes, Johnson County/Franklin's situation. & the 2008 flood.
History of Drainage in Indiana
Quote (From Lucas, below): "...one can view the Swampland Act of 1850
as the big starting point. Congress looked to the west and saw a lot of land
that was wet, swampy, or often flooded. In 1850 economic development meant farming.
Swampy or frequently flooded lands weren't amenable to agriculture, and often
posed a barrier to
transportation and law enforcement. Congress gave these lands to the state with the condition that they be drained and plowed... Drainage is achieved by speeding the flow of water downstream; the basic ways to do this are by (a) shortening the distance that the water must travel by straightening its course, by (b) removing any objects that might interfere with its flow and by (c) cutting a steeper gradient."
Abundance breeds contempt - perspectives on Indiana drainage law and policy - a look at Indiana drainage law and policy with suggestions for reform - Kankakee River Log's (KRLog) Indiana Drainage Reform Forum Doc 2002.01 - Marty Lucas - 11.19.02
"The problems of Indiana's drainage code are a lot like the problems of Indiana in general - anachronistic, obsolete institutional structures - lack of imagination - lack of skills and professionalism both in government and in the press - 'good-ole-boyism'. The tendency of Hoosiers to keep 'doin' what we always done' has led the state into a downward spiral of brain drain, eroding quality of life, and lost opportunities."
Are you benefited? Indiana's drainage tax system.
by Marty Lucas - 7.21.2001
Quote: "They drain wallets too: Whether it's a county drainage board or a regional board, funding for all of these projects comes from a property tax sometimes euphemistically called an "assessment". The drainage code authorizes the controlling drainage board to tax real estate located in that ditch's watershed, based on the "benefit" accruing to the property. So, let's say you own land in the watershed where the drainage board has decided to do some dredging, or bulldoze some trees? Are you benefited?"
The law. Drainage etc.
Indiana Drainage Handbook
Quote: "Stream channel erosion can generally be corrected using either vegetative... or structural... techniques, or a combination of both... Vegetation techniques are generally less expensive than structural, and are generally more compatible with stream characteristics... Regardless of which technique the Handbook user decides to utilize, it is important to keep in mind that no one measure works well in all situations... Vegetative methods tend to work well along natural streams, in urban areas where a natural appearance, improved habitat, and water quality is important, and where cost may be a deciding factor as to whether a stream is restored. Visually, streams repaired using vegetative methods may take on a natural appearance after only one growing season. The network of plants critical to all vegetative techniques absorbs erosional energy during floods, provides habitat for wildlife, acts as a barrier to ice scour, conserves soil moisture, and stabilizes the soils and streambank."
Youngs Creek Watershed: A Plan for the Future
Quote: "The Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) was developed
by the Ohio EPA to provide a qualitative valuation of the stream habitat by
measuring the physical features that affect aquatic communities. This index
provides information on a stream’s ability to support fish and
macroinvertebrate communities... The QHEI is composed of six parameters
that are related to stream fish communities: substrate, instream cover, channel
morphology, riparian and bank conditions, pool and riffle quality, and gradient...
In order to more thoroughly examine the watershed, a QHEI was conducted at 18 sites throughout the watershed during November 2001 and August 2002... The results show that most sites located in agricultural areas north of Franklin are classified as “not supporting.” In addition, most sites that were found to be “not supporting” are located within legal drains. In general, these reaches are straight, an indication of channelization, and were designed to move water away from the land quickly. Due to their straight nature and lack of streamside vegetation, they have little opportunity to score high on the QHEI parameter."
Legal drains/sub-basin maps, more.
2008 STORMWATER DRAINAGE MANUAL - UPDATED (for engineers)
Concerns of the ERRA/ERA Regarding the Proposal to Change the North and Middle Branches of the Elkhart River into a Regulated Drain
Quote: "The solution to this problem [flooding & sedimentation]
lies in slowing runoff and promoting conservation throughout the watershed,
not in forcing water downstream. Some ways to do this are to:
* Install buffers on stream and river banks
* Promote conservation tillage and cover crops on cropland
* Promote Low Impact Development (rain gardens, pervious pavement, cisterns)
* Restore wetlands
* Install two-stage ditches"
Also of interest:
Central Indiana Watersheds
Promote and share information about water quality and work in watersheds.
Indiana Citizen Planner's Guide
TWO IMPORTANT POINTS:
1. "DITCHING" CANARY & HURRICANE CREEKS EXACERBATED FLOOD INTENSITY IN 2008!
2. WHY THE HECK ARE PROPERTY OWNERS INSIDE CITY LIMITS PAYING DITCH TAXES??
(We'll take a look at Franklin, and Hurricane Creek.)
CLICK IMAGE to download larger image. Map is from Surveyor's office.
CLICK IMAGE to download larger image. Map is from Surveyor's office, dated April 2, 1973..
170 properties (at least) inside the City of Franklin city limits which are assessed the Hurricane "ditch fee" (starting in 1974, I assume). What the levy amonts were originally I don't know, but each "city lot" now pays $10 a year; larger parcels may pay more, depending on acreage. (I don't suppose that Franklin College pays anything.) Funny thing about this is, since the fee is supposed to pay for "maintenance", and this stretch has never been "maintained" (thank God), what have these people been paying for all these years? What is the "benefit"? The fact is that paying these amounts into a county slush fund (try asking for an accounting!) have actually had a NEGATIVE impact on Franklin, particularly properties closest to the "ditch", because "ditching" Hurricane has made flooding HIGHER and FASTER!
Photo from Surveyor, dated March 1982. CR 200 N is at left, leading to CR 400 E at top. Creek is flowing from the north, at right. Fairly straight channel, but nine years into "maintenance" there were still a fair amount of trees and grass left on the banks, and the channel has width and definition. CLICK IMAGE to download larger image showing section to the north.
Recent image (probably taken in 2006) from Google Earth. In 2005 the Drainage Board and County Surveyor Doug Lechner spent way over 100 grand to strip Hurricane of vegetation, dredge it, and rip-rap the banks. CLICK IMAGE to download larger image showing section to the north. MORE SATELLITE PHOTOS ARE BELOW.
Here are PDF documents about Hurricane Creek, it's status as a legal drain, and the 2005 reconstruction project which paved the way for the 2008 flood disaster. You'll need a PDF viewer like Adobe Acrobat or Foxit or MS Word to view them:
1. Hurricane "Ditch" history.
2. Images taken in Oct. 2004.
3. Notes, applications, notices for the 2005 project.
4. Contracts and instructions
for the 2005 project.
Canary Creek, ditched from just north of E CR 400 N (left), and southwards (right).
Canary Creek, or ditch, continuing from E CR 300 N, or Earlywood Dr. (left), southwards into Franklin's north side (right). That neighborhood experienced flooding.
Detail of the ditch, running south and underneath the Indiana Railroad tracks, and into Franklin. It sees few trees until about a mile past US 31.
A few years ago, Hurricane Creek was also "ditched." Which is why we could now call it "Hurry-cane." I am told that there was much protest over the removal of... Hundreds? Thousands? of trees? In 2008 I asked the County Surveyor, Mr. Lechner, for details, but he was unable to remember when this project occurred, how much it cost, or who the contractor was. Couldn't even remember how long he'd been in office!
Hurricane Creek emerging from some miraculously preserved trees, near CR 575 N (left), running south (right).
Hurricane Creek, or ditch, from CR 425 E (left), running south and along the east side of Legends golf course (right). The old stream course that eventually becomes Roaring Run starts about CR 300 N, at the north end of Legends, which follows the old stream course.
Hurricane Creek from E CR 200 N (left), running southward and through an area controlled by Indiana-American Water (where the pond is), thus the remaining trees, and then southwest past Needham School, and into a more natural area at last.
Detail of the ditching job just upstream of the Indiana-American property. Worth the money, ya think?
III. FRANKLIN COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORP.
Hurricane Creek, as a creek should look, and function, downstream of Needham School.
Hurricane Creek entering Franklin Community School Corporation property at Upper Shelbyville Rd.
View upstream from Upper Shelbyville towards the water company woods. Grass has grown over some of the riprap rock. Adjacent areas, although unused, are kept in lawn.
View downstream. There is no grass on the streambank on FCSC property, because it has been denuded with Roundup herbicide. Looks good, eh? Low-maintenance too.
View from the treeline, upstream. Herbicide has been sprayed right down to the waterline, and so effectively into the water. Which is an "off-label" use for this version of herbicide, therefore illegal. And pretty dumb in any case.
Because all growth is gone - except those huddling mid-stream - there is nothing to hold the soil on the banks, which erode. And nothing to slow flood water velocity.
FCSC staff spray Roundup profusely, profligately, and ridiculously, all over FCSC property, including this wooded ditch leading into Hurricane Creek. You'll find this ignorance spreading to other government entities, institutions, businesses, etc. Kickbacks from Monsanto salesmen, perhaps?
IV. CITY OF FRANKLIN
Other sites contribute to the narrowing of the Youngs Creek flood channel, such as Brown's Tree Service's mountain of wood chips and pieces....
Which is tumbling into the Youngs Creek floodway.
Landowners along Youngs Creek continue to fill the floodway illegally...
Including the City of Franklin, at Greenlawn Cemetery.
As in the case of Thomas & Thomas Developers, the City of Franklin WILL NOT enforce or obey flood-related laws, whether local, state, or federal. In March 2009, Bastin-Logan Water Services clearcut about 80% of the trees on a city-owned parcel across Youngs Creek from Greenlawn Cemetery, and bulldozed the debris onto the creek bank.
The Bastin-Logan crimes were the final straw for me, as far as shenanigans either committed or winked at by the City of Franklin, so I made complaint to the DNR. Feel free to download the following documents:
Brown's Tree Service
NEW: Board of Works audio recordings of discussions of the Bastin-Logan rampage!
1. I reported it to the City Council on April 6, then the BOARD OF WORKS APRIL 7.
2. Report from Franklin Police Chief Stan Lynn on April 21 - I wasn't there.
Cast of characters: Keystone Stan, BOW Member Dan Murray, Mayor Fred Paris.