Ox Creek Watershed-Benton Charter Township, Michigan

Wightman, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Berrien County Conservation District, Two Rivers Coalition, and Sarett Nature Center have partnered together to work on a study to improve water quality in the Ox Creek, a sub-watershed of the Paw Paw River. Ox Creek appears on Michigan’s 303(d) list as a result of biological impairments that do not meet water quality standards. This study was funded in part by a grant administered by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Wightman studied the urbanized area of this watershed which includes the Orchard’s Mall, Home Depot, Walmart, Meijer and surrounding commercial district to find out ways to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of stormwater runoff from this heavily developed area. Wightman mined data on existing conditions and met with key stakeholders to determine the project area, collected sewer maps, created a baseline hydrograph study, reviewed local zoning codes and requirements, and researched soil types and permeability. With this information, Wightman developed a technical plan update to identify appropriate and most cost-effective Non-Point Source Best Management Practices (BMPs). Site specific locational information for each physical BMP is displayed in a map in the final plan as well as estimated pollutant load reductions utilizing modeling tools.

Wightman’s office is within this urbanized area of the watershed. As a part of this project a rain garden was installed to reduce the quantity and decrease the temperature of stormwater and improve the quality of the water leaving our parking lot. The Rain Garden was designed to capture and retain the first 1” of rainfall from a storm. This first 1” is sometimes known as the “first flush” and it is the initial surface runoff of a rainstorm. During this phase pollution, such as sediment, trash, and oil or gas from the parking areas, are washed into the rivers and streams. Capturing this first flush significantly improves the water quality entering our natural watercourses.

We are proud to be leading by example in our watershed and were honored to receive the Michigan Award from Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc. in 2019. 

For additional resources, please visit and view the following: