The Sugar Creek Method:
An Example of Community-Based Watershed Management

Residents of the Sugar Creek Watershed of Northeastern Ohio have come together to improve water quality in their area. The Sugar Creek Method is an example of successful, sustained community-based watershed management and is offered here as a model for water resource management.

How the Sugar Creek Method Came About

In 2000 the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labeled the Sugar Creek Watershed the second most impaired watershed in Ohio.

Since then, residents of the Sugar Creek area have created a new relationship with their environment and among themselves. These Ohioans have formed unique communities in three sub-watersheds of the Sugar Creek and have been implementing strategies to monitor and remediate the water in their stream.

It has been through their initiative and self-reliance that the “Sugar Creek Method” for pollution remediation has emerged.

What Is the Sugar Creek Method?

The Sugar Creek Method is a community-based approach to watershed management that emphasizes local action and decision-making based on scientific data.

It has six main characteristics:

  1. Treat each stream as unique physically, biologically, and socially. (Read more.)
  2. Focus on headwaters and benchmark water quality. (Read more.)
  3. Catalyze participatory learning communities at the local level that seek their own sub-watershed visions. (Read more.)
  4. Collaborate with downstream teams with the help of Extension and Soil and Water Quality professionals. (Read more.)
  5. Build on the concept that a healthy environment leads to healthy people and profitable agriculture. (Read more.)
  6. Seek to find more sustainable approaches at the family, property parcel, sub-watershed, community, and watershed levels through a holistic approach. (Read more.)