The last watershed study of Lake Monroe’s watershed was published in 1997. FOLM is working to update the study with new data.

Project:  Science

Initiated:  April 2017

Team Leader:  Sherry Mitchell-Bruker

What We’ve Accomplished:


In August 2018 FLM submitted a Section 319 grant application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to develop a watershed management plan for Lake Monroe.  The application was highly ranked by IDEM and recommended to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for funding. The grant application was accompanied by 34 letters of support including cash match commitments from:

  • Monroe County Stormwater Board ($37,500)
  • City of Bloomington Utilities ($37,500)
  • Sassafras Audubon Society ($2000)

In addition to these cash match commitments, in-kind contributions were offered by:

  • The City of Bloomington Utilities
  • Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Bloomington and Monroe County League of Women Voters
  • The Conservation Law Center
  • Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Indiana University Media School
  • Monroe County Planning Department
  • The Town of Nashville
  • Brown County Commissioners

Additional letters and resolutions of support came from various government leaders, businesses and civic organizations:

  • State Senator Mark Stoops,
  • State Representative Matt Pierce,
  • State Representative Chris May.
  • Monroe County Council,
  • Monroe County Commissioners,
  • Monroe County Surveyor,
  • Hoosier National Forest,
  • US Geological Survey
  • Bloomington City Council,
  • Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton,
  • Bloomington Environmental Commission
  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources,
  • Indiana University Department of Chemistry,
  • Fourwinds Lakeside Inn and Marina,
  • One World Enterprises,
  • Cardinal Spirits,
  • Salt Creek Preservation Group,
  • The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce,
  • US Army Corps of Engineers,
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service,
  • Visit Bloomington

Final approval is determined by the USEPA and is dependent on the amount of Section 319 funds in the USEPA 2019 budget. The decision on approval is anticipated in the Spring of 2019.

2. Monitoring

  • Water clarity monitoring was conducted by volunteers weekly during the summers of 2017 and 2018 in the Ramp Creek area of Lake Monroe.   The work was conducted at the request of area residents who are concerned about potential impacts from private logging near the Shadyside Rd neighborhood.  Secchi Depth and Turbidity were measured at three different locations.
    • Science committee members began exploring methods to measure water clarity, depth and sample for plastics using autonomous sampling equipment. This effort was spearheaded by a group of 10-13 year old students, the Spockbots, who built a demonstration instrument to measure Secchi depth as part of the International Lego Challenge. These students won their regional competition and traveled to Copenhagen to garner an award.
    • Science committee Howard Webb has led the effort to obtain current maps and develop new maps of the lake bed topography (bathymetry). Trial efforts in the Pine Grove section of the lake reveal the remnant stream bed of Salt Creek is still intact. Howard is developing methods to engage citizen scientists and fishermen in this effort.
    • FLM president, Sherry Mitchell-Bruker, has been working with The Nature Conservancy and The City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) to explore the feasibility of a water fund. As a first step, a group of scientists from government agencies and Indiana University were gathered to locate sources of existing data and identify data needs. The Nature Conservancy funded a SPEA graduate student to work with SPEA faculty member, Melissa Laney, to compile and analyze these data. The report is available here. As a result, a second group of scientists, including CBU, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Hoosier National Forest (HNF), IDEM, US Geological Survey (USGS) and IUSPEA, is working to develop an integrated monitoring plan for Lake Monroe.


Summer Intern, Brady Barksdale, interviewed area fishermen and state fisheries scientists to learn more about recreational fishing in Lake Monroe.  His report can be viewed here.


Melissa Laney’s Graduate SPEA Capstone Class worked with FLM to explore and implement methods for using GIS to quantify sediment loading to the lake.  Additionally, they developed a handbook for citizen science monitoring, which will serve as a starting point for the monitoring needed to develop a watershed management plan.  Their report is available here.

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