St. Joe River

St. Joseph River Water Quality

The St. Joseph River is a very beautiful complex system that for well over a century has been the lifeblood of the communities of Elkhart, Mishawaka and South Bend.

The St. Joseph River originates near Baw Beese Lake in Hillsdale, Michigan. It meanders into Northern Indiana heading southwesterly through Elkhart and Mishawaka until making an abrupt northerly turn at "the Bend" towards Michigan.

On the way, the St. Joe travels over 200 miles, draining approximately 4,685 square miles and 15 counties in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan (Wesley & Duffy, 1999). Throughout its journey, the St. Joe encounters point and non-point source pollution from industrial, urban, and agricultural areas. The mighty Joe is also pressured by upstream disturbances from its delicate tributaries.

Despite the water quality impacts, the St. Joe continues to flourish, hosting diverse wildlife communities and providing a multitude of recreational and aesthetic opportunities for its stakeholders.

To maintain an understanding of the impacts our communities are having on this resource, and to determine where improvements can be made, the Cities of South Bend, Mishawaka, and Elkhart have entered into an interlocal agreement to monitor the rivers and streams of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties.