Northwest Indiana is home to one of the nation’s most unique river systems.

In 2019, the Indiana General Assembly created the Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission to meet over a century’s worth of challenges along the Kankakee and Yellow Rivers.

The drainage basin surrounding the Kankakee River and its major Indiana tributary, the Yellow River, once was home to the second-largest freshwater marsh in the United States.  Following drainage projects completed in the early Twentieth Century, it became home to some of the world’s most productive farmland, tens of thousands of Northwest Indiana residents, and a number of historic communities.

For the past hundred years, we still face dilemmas related to these long-ago efforts.  Since then, steady increases in both the concentration and the velocity of water within the watershed have led to more soil erosion.  That erosion, in turn, has changed the way that water moves in relationship to Northwest Indiana’s human, economic, agricultural, and natural resource needs.

The Basin Development Commission directly serves the water resource planning and development of Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Porter, St. Joseph, and Starke Counties in Indiana. Because running water adheres to no boundaries, the Commission also includes partners in Illinois as key stakeholders in the long-term improvement and revitalization of this priceless interstate river system.

Through representatives of the eight Indiana counties, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and advisers from Illinois, the Basin Development Commission coordinates and implements projects for the long-term vitality of the Kankakee River, the Yellow River, and the people that rely on them.

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Recent Meeting Minutes from the Commission