Best Management Practices (BMPs) to Improve Ox Creek

WATER – slow it down, spread it out, soak it in!


BMPs in Action
2303 Pipestone Road, Benton Harbor, MI

This large rain garden is planted with native shrubs, perennials, and flowers, which not only improve Ox Creek, but also this business’s curb appeal. Employees were involved in designing and planting the garden. This rain garden was partially funded with state grant dollars by a company committed to a cleaner and healthier Ox Creek.

These are shallow channels which are densely planted with a variety of native grasses, shrubs, and/or trees designed to slow, filter, and infiltrate runoff.

Roofs and exterior walls can be designed to support living vegetation. The vegetation slows and filters runoff and also provides heating and cooling energy benefits, increases lifespan, reduces heat island effect, and enhances aesthetics.

These structures are designed to intercept and store runoff from rooftops allowing for its reuse. They provide a supplemental water supply often used for irrigation.

Areas of land that exist between rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands, and higher, dry upland areas planted with native plants, shrubs, and/or trees. These plants slow and filter runoff before it reaches the waterbody or wetland.

Alternatives to traditional pavement include pervious asphalt, pervious concrete, interlocking pavers, and plastic grid pavers, which allow rain and snowmelt to seep through the surface down to underlying layers of soil and gravel.


Photos courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cover Crops
Plants established for seasonal cover such as grasses or legumes can protect soil from erosion and increase rain infiltration. This reduces sediment and nutrient runoff into nearby water bodies. Retained organic matter and nutrients are available to crops increasing yields.

Farming without tilling leaves crop and plant residue in place so organic matter and nutrients are retained. Less soil disturbance protects from erosion and sediment runoff. Crops use water more efficiently as rain and irrigation water is captured and evaporation is reduced.

Drainage Water Management
Water-control structures are used to manage the timing and the amount of water discharged from agricultural drainage systems. DWM improves water quality and crop production by reducing excess nutrient discharge and making water available to plant roots

Wetland Reserve Easement
Restoring wetlands to conditions prior to conversion to farmland provides tremendous benefits. They help recharge groundwater, reduce flooding to surrounding areas by acting as a sponge, filter water before it reaches creeks and rivers, and provide wildlife and pollinator habitat.

Streambank and Shoreline Protection
Controlling streambank and shoreline erosion by restoring and protecting banks will decrease sediment in lakes and other bodies of water. This measure can also significantly reduce phosphorus transport from adjacent agricultural fields.

Filter Strips
Areas of vegetation are planted in strips between cropland, grazing land, forests and environmentally-sensitive areas such as streams and rivers. Filter strips reduce and slow runoff of sediment and nutrients from soil, and increase infiltration and groundwater recharge.

This project has been funded wholly or in part through Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.