Battle Creek (Michigan)

River Basin Characteristics

Battle Creek – Victoria Dam

The Battle Creek River is located in southwestern lower Michigan and serves as a large tributary to Lake Michigan, entering the lake via the Kalamazoo River at Saugatuck, Michigan. The drainage basin of the Battle Creek River is 241 square miles and is found within three different counties: Barry, Calhoun and Eaton. The watershed is 68 percent agricultural and also contains 13 percent forest and 10 percent wetland areas. The city of Saugatuck has a federally maintained harbor.

Landuse distribution in the Battle Creek watershed

The soils found within the watershed range from well-drained sandy loams to mucky areas with poor drainage. Many of the soil erosion and sedimentation concerns in this area stem from agricultural practices. For instance, areas of the upstream portion of the river tend to be heavily channelized and tile-drained. These practices have significant sediment production potential. Other concerns stem from the removal or possible removal of dams along the river.

Modeling Approach

Battle Creek – Engineering of channels

A watershed hydrology and sedimentation model was built using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to provide a quantitative and physically based estimate of total sediment yield by sources for the Battle Creek River watershed. SWAT was chosen to account for the region’s agricultural practices, soil conservation practices, artificial watershed drainage and degradation of channel beds. This information was then used to develop a sediment budget for the watershed to identify major contributors of sediment.

The model was created by compiling data from many sources with an Arcview interface of SWAT called AVSWAT and was calibrated with daily flow data from the U.S. Geological Survey gage at Battle Creek. The tributary model is composed of aerial imagery data, land use data, dams data, soils data, terrain data and climate data.

Modeling for the Battle Creek River project was completed in September 2008, along with a training workshop for state and local partners to learn to utilize the modeling tool for various planning scenarios.

Use and Applications

Sediment BMPs as listed in the “Battle Creek River Watershed Management Plan”

The watershed hydrology and sedimentation model created has been used to develop a sediment budget that may be used by local and regional stakeholders and regulatory authorities to facilitate the identification, prioritization, and implementation of sediment reduction strategies.

Project Partners

For More Information:


James P. Selegean, P.E., Ph.D.
Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
Office: (313) 226-6791
Fax: (313) 226-2398