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The Coldwater Column

By Ron Barch, member of board of directors, Coldwater River Watershed Council

Imagine putting a canoe into the Little Thornapple River just below the outlet to Jordan Lake. If it were early spring, water levels would be high and your conoe would shoot down stream.

As you drift down river, the stream corridor is shadded by mixed hard woods and a sense of seclusion predominates. This upper stretch of the Little Thornapple is the source of the Coldwater River and a watershed that includes three counties and approx. 150 square miles.

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a given creek, stream or river. When defining the Coldwater River watershed, one needs to also consider the smaller bodies of water flowing into the Coldwater. The major tributaries are the Little Thornapple, Duck Creek and Tyler creek. These tributaries are joined by an assortment of smaller brooks and drains to form the watershed. The term "watershed" is a new term for many people, its use as a measurement tool for soil and water conservation is increasingly becoming more common.

Watersheds are defined using natural characteristics and are not restricted by county or township boundries.

The Coldwater River Watershed begins in Barry county, includes parts of Ionia, and Kent County. When the Coldwater eventually joins the Thornapple River below Whitneyville Road, it becomes part of the larger Thornapple River Watershed system. Eventuall the Thornapple flows into the Grand River and both the Thornapple and the Coldwater become part of The much larger Grand River watershed system.

For every river in Michigan there is a corresponding watershed.

The Residentd living within the Coldwater River watershed, especially riparian residents(those living on the river or one of its tributaries) are especially fortunate because the Coldwater is one of the last, best trout streams in Southwestern Michigan. In order for a river system to support a trout population, the water quality must be excellent. Streams are classified into three groups and while most of the Coldwater watershed is classed as a group of two, able to support trout, Some areas fall below


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