About the Report Card

The White River Report Card is an assessment and communication tool to measure community progress, align partners and activities, and inspire change that improves our river and its watershed and protects our economy and way of life. 

Report cards are assessment and communication products that compare ecological, social, and/or economic information against predefined goals or objectives. Similar to school report cards, river basin report cards provide performance-driven numeric grades or letters that reflect the status of a river basin on a regular basis. They effectively integrate and synthesize large, and often complex, information into simple scores that can be communicated to decision makers and the general public and provide to help us make good decisions.

Report cards enhance research, monitoring, and management in several ways. First and foremost, the process of developing a report card facilitates interaction among people, governments, and industries who have different agendas, perspectives, and levels of awareness—often leading to a shared vision of what the future will be, and what is needed to get there. For the research community, report cards can lead to new insights through multi-disciplined data analyses that reveal patterns not immediately apparent, help design a conceptual framework to integrate scientific understanding and ecological and socio-economic values, and to scale approaches that allow for comparison in time and space. And for everyone, report cards help translate sometimes complicated natural and social science into understandable and actionable information. It may be overwhelming to think about tackling “water quality” over a multi-county watershed, for example, but when we can see one indicator in one part of the watershed is doing poorly, we can focus our efforts to that one issue and one area and see visible improvements.

What is Included in the Report Card?

While we’re just beginning to identify the types of things that matter for inclusion in the White River Report Card, we know it will include at least three categories of indicators. Each of these categories will likely have multiple indicators measuring different aspects of it.

How is the Report Card Developed?

With a lot of input from engaged stakeholders of all types! In addition to being a natural ecosystem, humans use and depend on the river for lots of different things–drinking water, irrigation, recreation, drainage, industry, wastewater, and many more. The key to a report card’s success is including indicators that reflect as many different values and uses of the river. To do this we’re following a process perfected by our partners at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

Example Report Cards from Other Places

Chesapeake Bay

Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

Mississippi River Watershed

Central United States

Willamette River


About the Watershed

White River flows in two forks across most of Central and Southern Indiana, creating the largest watershed contained entirely within the state. This Report Card is focused on the West Fork of White River and the surrounding land which is all part of the Upper White River Watershed. The Upper White River Watershed  encompasses a 2,720 square mile area (1,740,544 acres) within central Indiana. It extends across sixteen (16) counties including significant portions of Hancock, Marion, Hendricks, Johnson, Hamilton, Morgan, Boone, Tipton, Madison, Henry, Delaware, and Randolph Counties, as well as smaller portions of Owen, Monroe, Brown, and Clinton Counties.

The White River begins in a farmer’s field in Randolph County, south of Winchester, and flows in a south western direction. As it travels the river passes through farms, woods, small towns, bustling cities, and industrial sites. These diverse land uses all influence the White River. Explore the White River and its watershed through the below interactive map!