The North Branch Elkhart River Project evolved as the many participating agencies discussed a particular community's recurring efforts to resolve their flood risk management challenges. The community had sought studies and assistance from a number of individual state and federal agencies over many years, but none were coordinated, and little action followed.
The Indiana Silver Jackets team brought together the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Resource Conservation Service (USDA - NRCS) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Individually the agencies had invested several hundred thousand dollars in studies, stream clearing, snagging efforts, and other work in the area. After each agency reviewed available studies and information regarding the area, the interagency team compiled a single summary document that explained, in layman's terms, the geological and hydrologic conditions, the flood history of the area, and possible approaches to resolve the effects of flooding in the area. The report presented alternatives as well as warnings regarding actions that could exacerbate the situation. The findings were presented to the local steering committee and the community as a whole; public meetings were held to both inform the community and to foster acceptance of the findings.
The community has since reported that they are following the first recommendation, the formation of a basin-wide planning team to examine the options, not from a neighborhood perspective as had been done in the past, but from a watershed perspective considering all communities as a part of a solution. Although there were no direct expenses to funding programs, the agencies invested staff time to research and write the report. Differences in the community were set aside, as the community implements a watershed approach to develop a basin-wide strategy based on common interests. Long-term requests for funding will now focus on a holistic solution rather than individual patches.