Planning and Evaluation of Data Quality Objectives for a Regional Snapshot
The use of volunteers to collect and analyze samples from streams is a priority for the continued improvement of the Iowa watersheds. Recent legislation created the “Credible Data” requirements for volunteer data used in watershed evaluation by the State of Iowa and Environmental Protection Agency. The formulation and implementation of an acceptable Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) by the volunteer organization will be outlined and examples given for a successful QAPP.
Lake Delhi Sampling
IOWATER activities of nominee:
This group is the driving force behind water quality improvements in Lake Delhi, a 400- acre impoundment of the Maquoketa River.
A member of the MRWQT submitted a grant to the DNR to fund a $600,000 Lake Delhi Restoration Project, which runs from 2000 to 2004. The focus of the project is soil erosion and water quality in the Lake Delhi watershed and is the first step in long range plans to dredge parts of the lake.
To carry out technical portions of the grant project, partnerships were formed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, the United States Geological Survey, and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at the University of Northern Iowa. An NRCS Soil Conservationist was hired as the project coordinator.
Many conservation practices were installed during 2000- 2003 resulting in an NRCS estimate of 3,200 TONS of soil saved EACH YEAR on farmland in the immediate watershed surrounding Lake Delhi! Soil saving benefits will continue for many years after the project is completed and is a major objective of the MRWQT.
The following is the MRWQT volunteer contributions:
Ø Authored A Guide for Living on Lake Delhi. The purpose of the guide was to give lake residents sound, environmental information to manage drinking water wells, septic systems, household hazardous wastes, lawn care, and erosion control on lake property. Many residents have never lived in rural areas until moving to Lake Delhi, so the guide is very informative and also provides resources for additional help.
Ø Hand-delivered copies of the guide to 900 residents.
Ø Trained by the USGS to collect water quality samples for the USGS - 5 times each week for two years at the USGS Gauging station located at Manchester.
Ø Hosted a Lake Delhi Festival – focus on raising awareness in the lake community
Ø MRWQT are Level 1 and some are Level 2 IOWATER trained
Ø Monitor 8 sites for the past 3 years
Ø Organized the clean up of Turtle Creek Road - ditch drains into Lake Delhi. The ditch had been used as a “dump” for years. 100 volunteers removed over 25 Tons of appliances, metal scrap, garbage and tires. No Dumping signs have been posted and the area is policed regularly.
Ø Entered a “water quality” float in Delhi Days parade – focus on raising awareness for everyone regarding water quality.
Ø Established a ‘mini-grant program’ to encourage lake residents to install conservation practices on shorelines and/or construction sites. Currently 8 homeowners have qualified for grants of $500 each. Funding support for ‘mini-grants’ is NOT from the DNR grant.
Ø Established a ‘septic pump out rebate program’. A homeowner can qualify for the rebate when they provide proof that their septic tank has been pumped AND inspected to determine if the tank, field, etc. is functioning properly. Funding NOT from the DNR grant.
Ø The MRWQT was also the driving force in establishing the Lake Delhi website, a place where lake information, environmental education and MRWQT project activities can be posted.
1. Conceiving, writing and submitting for a $600,000 DNR grant project.
2. Identifying and then bringing in all state and federal partners needed to implement the grant.
3. Organized Turtle Creek Road clean up.
4. Authoring A Guide for Living on Lake Delhi.
5. Developing a mini-grant project for lake residents.
6. Developing a septic rebate program for lake residents.
Grower Initiatives Evaluating Crop Management Practices and Water Quality
Tracy Blackmer and Roger Wolf
The Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board recognizes the need and benefit of evaluating field management practices for both agronomic performance and environmental impact in Iowa. The Iowa Soybean Association has initiated several projects to evaluate nutrient management at the field, farm and watershed level. Over 300 replicated field trials evaluating nitrogen (N) rates on growers’ fields were conducted using combines with GPS and yield monitors between 2001 and 2003. An additional 100 replicated tillage trials have been initiated evaluating deep tillage in central and northeast Iowa. An additional strategy to evaluate N management was implemented that involved two-thirds of all the growers in the West Butrick Creek watershed (a sub-watershed in the North Raccoon River Basin). The watershed strategy includes use of aerial imagery and guided stalk nitrate sampling to help growers evaluate their N management without the need for replicated strips or yield monitors. The results of the stalk nitrate samples were compared across growers, soil map units, and management practices within the West Butrick watershed. Within the watershed, water samples to measure differences in nitrate concentrations from micro-watershed sites have been collected for two years in West Butrick Creek. Changes in N management will occur in paired micro-watersheds to measure differences in nitrate concentration in the water in future years. The results to date have found that many growers can improve both their N efficiency and profitability. In addition, the impacts on N concentration will be quantified in response to the management practice changes.
Cyanotoxins in Iowa Lakes
Cyanobacteria produce a chemically and bioactively diverse group of toxins, all targeting fundamental cellular processes and thereby affecting a wide range of organisms. Microcystin, a cyanobacterial hepatotoxin, is a potential health risk in drinking water supplies and recreational resources and has been implicated in incidents of human and animal illness and death in over twenty countries worldwide, including the United States.
To determine the distribution, occurrence, and concentration in Iowa, algal samples were collected from 131 lakes using a 64 mm mesh net. Individual lakes were sampled 1-10 times during May-September, 1999-2001. The microcystin content of samples, measured by ELISA, ranged from undetectable to 1000 mg/g seston and 4400 ng/L. All but one lake had detectable levels of microcystin at least once, and 88% of lakes always had at least low levels present. Peak microcystin concentrations in lakes sampled on several occasions were observed anytime from May-September. Cyanobacteria dominated phytoplankton biovolume in 81% of lake visits, and potential microcystin producers (Anabaena, Coelosphaerium, Microcystis, and Oscillatoria) were present in 97% of lake visits. The current study indicates there is a potential microcystin risk in Iowa lakes anytime cyanobacteria are present.
Below the Water Surface, What is Happening to Iowa’s Freshwater Mussels?
Freshwater mussels are the most endangered animal faunas in Iowa and the United States. Of the 304 mussel species in North American, nearly 70% are believed to be endangered, threatened or of special concern. Historically Iowa had approximately 54 species of mussels within our borders. Presently twelve species appear to have been extirpated. Another 24 species are in danger of disappearing from our waters in the future.
Habitat alteration and water quality problems are the primary cause of endangerment on Iowa’s rivers. In addition, on the Mississippi River the invasion of the exotic zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) also has negatively impacted the mussel fauna. Since 1992, when the first zebra mussels were first documented in Iowa waters, they have colonized nearly all-hard substrate (including native mussels) in the Mississippi River.
An attempt to re-introduce one mussel species, the federally endangered higgins eye mussel (Lampsilis higginsi) is currently being undertaken on the Iowa, Cedar and Wapsipinicon Rivers in Iowa. Higgins eye, like most mussels, use fish as a host for their young (glochidia). The glochidia attach to a fishes gill for several weeks until they fall to the substrate to begin life as a young mussel. Fish artificially inoculated with higgins eye glochidia have been stocked into these rivers to determine if this is a viable re-introduction method. Although the glochidia survival rate is expected to be low, an estimated two million glochidia may attempt to transform from the over 11,000 fish stocked.
The Hunt for Red E.coli: A Successful Bacterial Source Tracking Project in Iowa
Nancy Hall and Eric O’Brien
The Upper Iowa River is a valuable natural and economic resource located in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota. The Upper Iowa River watershed is a 1,005 square mile watershed recognized as a priority watershed for water quality protection because of its recreational value. Since 1999, the Upper Iowa River Watershed Alliance has monitored 39 stream sites throughout the Upper Iowa River Watershed in an effort to identify subwatersheds that are contributing elevated levels of fecal bacteria. The water quality monitoring identified six sub-watershed tributaries that had elevated bacteria levels, three of which were selected for a bacteria source tracking project; Coldwater Creek, Silver Creek near Cresco, and Silver Creek near Waukon. Potential sources in these sub-watersheds include runoff from feedlot and manure-amended agricultural lands, inadequate septic systems and wildlife.
The Upper Iowa Bacteria Source Tracking Project, begun in 2002, used DNA ribotyping to identify fecal sources in the Upper Iowa River Watershed. This was the first project of its type in Iowa and it was used to build a statewide E. coli bacteria DNA fingerprint database. A total of 200 E. coli isolates from known fecal sources (e.g. hog, cattle, sheep, goose, raccoon, deer, and human) and 50 E. coli isolates from water samples taken from the subwatersheds were collected and analyzed. DNA ribotyping was able to successfully discriminate between known human and cattle bacterial sources; however, the number of isolates was insufficient to distinguish between other animal sources. Project results have guided researchers and conservation specialists in the local area toward more accurate targeting of best management practices in watersheds to address and reduce fecal contamination. Because of the success of this project, researchers have continued building the DNA fingerprint library and applied other source tracking tools to ongoing studies throughout the state.
This study was a joint project between the DNR, Iowa Geological Survey, the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory and the Upper Iowa River Watershed Alliance. Funding for the project was provided by The University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER).
Improving Nutrient Management and Environmental Quality Using Test and Field Plot Results
Nutrient loss from agricultural fields creates an environmental problem; however, the solution is not as simple as simply changing the amount or timing of nutrient applications. Agricultural soils function as both water and nutrient reservoirs and to understand the role that soils and climates, in concert with nutrient management practices, have on environmental quality requires a variety of research approaches.
Environmental quality impacts are observed at the edge of the field either through surface runoff or subsurface lateral or subsurface drainage flow. Phosphorus is moved with surface runoff and nitrate-N is transported with subsurface movement of water. Runoff and drainage are two major components of field-scale hydrology and are a critical component of our research efforts to document the impact of management practices on environmental quality. Environmental quality impacts of different agricultural practices have been addressed at both the test plot and field scale level. Test plot scale experiments allow us to design specific experiments to evaluate the impact of single or multiple factors on environmental quality. For example, test plots have been used to document the effects of changing N rates on nitrate-N concentrations in isolated drain lines, the effect of crop residue and tillage management on surface runoff of P from manure, and the interactions of genetic material on nitrogen use efficiency and soil uptake of N. Field scale studies have been used to evaluate the interactions of soils and landscape effects coupled with N management and plant population to determine whether a reduction in N rate would have a negative impact on crop yield and a positive impact on environmental quality. These field scale studies have been conducted across central Iowa on producer fields using a minimum of three N rates and two or three planting populations of corn. We have observed that corn yields don’t increase with increasing N rates and there are different response functions across soils within a field. This has helped producers be able to assess the effect of N management decisions and in 2003 we have begun to address the problem of potential carryover effect of N onto the soybean crop and in 2004 we are following these fields to evaluate the long-term impact on management decisions on crop yields. We sample the fields for residual N and find that the optimum N rate reduces the level in the soil in the fall.
Test plot and field scale results provide a unique set of observations that enable producers to evaluate the effect of different management systems at a scale they can readily adopt into their management decisions. Field scale studies require a different type of statistical methods to evaluate the results and we have developed a better set of questions that are being addressed in test plots. We have used these combined approaches to demonstrate to producers that environmental quality can be enhanced while improved production efficiency.
The Iowa Lakes Valuation Project
Cathy Kling and Joe Herriges
As increased attention is focused on the issue of water quality in the state of Iowa, policy makers must grapple with the pressures of balancing federal water quality requirements, tight conservation budgets, and citizen concern for environmental preservation and restoration of Iowa’s water resources. Efforts to improve water quality typically entail significant costs, either in the form of state resources to fund cleanup efforts or private costs associated with altering land uses, farming practices, municipal treatment facility expansions, or other investments.
In order to make good policy decisions regarding water quality, it is important to understand the physical processes that affect water quality. Leading the effort to gather physical information about water quality in the state is the Iowa State University Limnology Laboratory. Dr. John Downing and other members of the ISU Limnology Laboratory are currently working on a five-year project designed to provide the Iowa
Department of Natural Resources with a lake database that will include water chemistry, biological analysis, and watershed geographic information systems (GIS) data for 132 of Iowa’s principle recreation lakes.
Another important component of making good policy decisions regarding water quality is to understand the degree to which citizens value improvements in water quality and are willing to make tradeoffs to enjoy improved quality in Iowa’s lakes. Since water quality improvements may be costly, it is necessary to know how much benefit people obtain from these improvements if society is to answer the question of whether it is “worth it” to undertake these projects. In many cases the question will be one of degree: that is, how much improvement in water quality should we strive for? What amount of improvement in water quality is simply too expensive, and would thereby require foregoing other public investments that are more valuable to the citizenry?
To provide this information, researchers from the Iowa State University Department of Economics and Center for Agricultural and Rural Development with funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have initiated an ambitious, multi-year study effort termed The Iowa Lakes Valuation Project. The project was designed to complement the research being done by the ISU Limnology Laboratory by providing important additional information for the same set of recreational lakes in Iowa and overlapping with the final four years of the Limnology Laboratory’s project, both of which will continue until 2005.
Perspectives on Nutrient Trends from the Des Moines River Water Quality Network
Three points will be discussed:
1. Proposed nutrient criteria are almost always exceeded along the Des Moines River Water Quality Network.
During the 2002 water year about 80% of Saylorville and Red Rock reservoir samples and 90% of Des Moines and Raccoon river samples exceeded the EPA criteria for subecoregion Western Corn Belt Plains for total phosphorus, with concentrations about 2.6 times the criteria. Also, nearly all the reservoir and river samples exceeded respective EPA WCBP criteria, with reservoir samples averaging about 8 times and river samples averaging nearly 4 times the criteria levels.
2. Examination of 28 years of nitrate and flow data showed that baseflow was a better predictor of nitrate concentration than streamflow.
Prediction of monthly nitrate concentration using
monthly baseflow yielded an r2 (closeness of fit) of 0.76. Also,
extrapolation of current nitrate-baseflow relationship to historical conditions
(1945-46) yielded an average annual nitrate that was three times the measured
value indicating that more nitrate per unit baseflow is currently being
3. Long-term comprehensive water quality monitoring data is essential to protecting and improving the quality of the state's waters
Good data decreases subjectivity and controversy and helps people make better decisions. With environmental data, especially surface water, often 10-20 years of data are needed to see trends through natural variability.
About Living Lands and Waters
Living Lands & Waters is the 501(c)3 organization formed by Chad Pregracke after spending 2 summers cleaning up the Mississippi River. In 1997 Chad created the Mississippi River Beautification and Restoration Project. By 1998 he realized that he needed to form a non-profit organization in order to raise funds to keep the project growing. Chad grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River. When Chad was in high school and college he was a commercial fisherman and shell diver. It was during this time that Chad lived on many of the islands in the Mississippi River. He noticed how much garbage was out there and it bothered him enough that he wanted to do something about it. That was the beginning of the Mississippi River Beautification and Restoration Project.
In 1997 Chad single handedly cleaned 100 miles of Mississippi River shoreline with community donations and a grant from Alcoa to help cover his expenses. He collected and recycled over 45,000 pounds of debris from the shorelines of the Quad City area. He continued on the Mississippi River in 1998 but expanded the project to 435 miles of the River. He wanted to mount the largest cleanup in the history of the Mississippi River. With the help of a few more boats and a small crew they accomplished this task by removing approximately 400,000 pounds of trash from an area between St. Louis, MO and Guttenburg, IA. Chad coordinated his first Community Cleanup in the Quad City area that year and enlisted the help of over 170 volunteers who cleaned over 40 miles of shoreline in just a few hours.
In 1999 Chad expanded his program by moving onto the Illinois River. The Illinois Beautification and Restoration Project became the second project of Living Lands and Waters. The first "River Relief" was held as a celebration of the River after the Community Cleanup. Environmental organizations, speakers and bands helped celebrate the successful cleanup. Chad kicked off the Adopt-A-Mississippi River Mile Project and asked people to help him care for the River by adopting a mile. This project was created as a way for people to become involved in Chad's work by becoming stewards of the River.
2000 took Chad back onto the Mississippi River. The project grew and expanded to include 3 garbage barges that held all the garbage until the end of the season. "River Relief" was held on Buffalo Beach, Buffalo, IA as a musical celebration of the River.
2001 took Chad onto the Ohio River as he initiated the Ohio River Beautification & Restoration Project. He also organized approximately 16 Community Cleanups on the Mississippi River.
2002 was a significant year of growth and change for Living Lands and Waters.
We returned to the Ohio River at the end of February and worked until we were driven back down River in April due to Mother Nature's flooding. We were provided with safe harbor from our good friends at Marquette Barge Company in Paducah, KY. When they saw that we had very limited living space in our houseboat, they offered an unused barge with two buildings on it. The barge had not been used for several years and had been badly damaged by vandals.
With great excitement about the potential use of the barge and buildings, LL&W quickly accepted the offer. The crew went to work immediately to repair and redesign the building to accommodate our new educational center for on-board presentations and workshops. (Contact us at (309) 496-9848 for more information on our on-board educational offerings.) In addition, we converted space for our new living quarters, and a remolded kitchen/utility area.
We returned to the Mississippi River in May and moved the entire fleet and crew to the Minneapolis/St. Paul MN. In June we conducted the largest cleanup on record. We partnered with 52 organizations and companies, worked night and day with 1,100 volunteers, and collected, loaded and recycled over 92 tons of trash. That was the first of the 14 community river cleanup projects that followed on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
In August, Chad left the crew for ten days to attend the World Summit of Sustainable Environments in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Coca-Cola Company invited him to share information about the river cleanup projects with members of Mission Antarctica, the group that removed tons of discarded trash that had been left behind by expeditions in Antarctica.
Our last community cleanup was on the Missouri River in St. Charles. As a result of our community cleanups we had filled and unloaded ten barges of trash. After unloading, we immediately returned to the Ohio River to continue our cleanup efforts. We finally shut down the operation for the year in late December due to snowfall and ice. We are already looking forward to returning to the Ohio River in late February.
2003 was a landmark year for Chad and his crew. The following is from Chad’s end-of-the year letter.
As I reflect back over 2003, it’s amazing the number of contributions Living Lands & Waters is making to our river environment. Because of your financial support and volunteer efforts, we are heading in some new directions that will benefit the river for many years to come, and we are extremely grateful for your generosity. You are truly “the crew” who make it all happen!
I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the past year. The crew began cleanup efforts for 2003 on the Ohio River near Owensboro, Kentucky, in February. It was a cold start, but our spirits were strong. We continued to work our way north, and in May we returned to the Mississippi River. From St. Louis, Missouri, to Davenport, Iowa, we hosted 15 free teacher workshops in our new floating classroom on the barge. It is essential that we educate the next generation about the river environment, and from the enthusiasm of all the teachers who participated; we believe our young citizens are in good hands!
We then headed north towards Minneapolis, Minnesota, to kick off our community river cleanups. Over a week’s period, we had 900+ volunteers remove over 75 tons of garbage! Soon after, we headed south, holding an additional 15 cleanups throughout four states. I am extremely grateful that we had tremendous turnouts along the way!
We also initiated the Riverbottom Forest Restoration Project to replace long-depleted nut and fruit trees along the islands and shorelines of the Mississippi. Although our focus remains on cleanup, replacing these types of trees is essential to bringing back the wildlife to our rivers. Working with the Corps of Engineers, scout troops, college and high school groups, and corporate volunteers, the Living Lands & Waters crew succeeded in planting just under 2000 trees this year.
I am extremely proud of the fact that we trained 295 teachers and river advocates through our classroom initiative called the Big River Education Workshops. It’s a great way for us to spread the word on the overall health and ecology of the river. We have already planned over 20 workshops for 2004.
As we begin shutting down our work on the river for the winter season, we continue planning our projects and repairing our equipment for the coming year. Don’t forget to bookmark our website (livinglandsandwaters.org) for updated news and photos of our crew and volunteers in action as well as our schedule for 2004.
Please know that we would be unable to fulfill our mission without your encouragement, volunteerism and financial support. Again, we thank you for your contributions to Living Lands & Waters and hope you will consider making a donation to further our efforts in 2004.
Old Mans Creek Sampling
I have had two test sites in the Old Mans Creek Watershed for over four years now. Originally these sites were tested on a weekly basis then monthly then I was lucky if they were sampled four or five times a year. I got bored. Why am I doing this, what am I accomplishing? Don’t get me wrong I loved studying water and the bugs that live in it, but I just could not see any reason for my little dots on that big map of Iowa.
Then one evening a new goal was placed before me. Two friends asked “Why not do a snapshot on the Old Mans Creek watershed?” Out of my mouth, which doesn’t know when to stay shut comes “Sure I can do that”. My mind which is not in gear yet thinks “at long lasts a new goal”. Little did I realize the number of hours and amount of research that would be required just to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes I felt I was hit by a train, but what an experience!
I already knew about high bacteria in Old Mans Creek and heard rumors of high Chloride in Clear Creek. I asked a good friend of mine why no one knew where the high Chloride was coming from. His reply was “Dave it is a matter of economics, it takes man power, time and money to do a study of a watershed.”
So what would happen if I took IOWATER, USGS, EPA and NRCS personnel and techniques and knowledge combined with the enthusiasm of volunteers?
So this talk is about how I accepted the challenge of a snapshot and the data 50 volunteers collected. We did not find the bacteria, or the High Chloride, but defined a chemical and biological baseline of Old Mans Creek and Clear Creek.
Project A.W.A.R.E. – One Week, One Mission, One Piece of Junk at a Time
We are all here today to learn what condition of Iowa’s waterways are in, and what are some factors that are effecting these waterway’s health. Well, is there any better way to see this for yourself than to travel an entire river, camp on its banks, and talk with people who live within this watershed and work to improve it?
Project AWARE was a group of volunteers who set out from Backbone State Park on the Maquoketa River on June 1, 2003 to discover exactly what kind of condition the stream was in. Along the way we would fill our canoes with trash, record stream conditions, and listen to experts talk about how the land was being used and how it affected stream quality. The journey took us from a small stream below Backbone Park, over Mill Pond and Lake Delhi, through beautiful limestone bluffs, and finally to the wide floodplain near the Mississippi River. All the while enjoying the company of Iowans who value healthy streams and enjoy paddling on them.
Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico: A Summary of Causes and Potential Correctives
One of the most pronounced effects of changes in nutrient loadings from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers is the seasonal development of the low-oxygen, or hypoxic, region commonly referred to as the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”. The dynamics of this region, which can become larger than the size of New Jersey, are driven by interactions of ocean dynamics and river nutrient loads. This presentation will provide an overview of the sources and transport of nitrogen, one of the key drivers of hypoxia from within the massive basin; results from numerical models that both hindcast and forecast the effects of changing river loads on Gulf hypoxia; and management and policy actions agreed to in a Federal-State-Tribal Action Plan for reducing hypoxia.
Cooperative Lakes Area Monitoring Project (CLAMP)
The Cooperative Lakes Area Monitoring Program (CLAMP) is coordinated by Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, a State Board of Regents institution founded in 1906 and located on the shores of Lake West Okoboji in Dickinson County, Iowa. Twice a month from June through September CLAMP volunteers monitor 11 lakes in Dickinson and Palo Alto Counties in northwest Iowa. Volunteers take field measurements (Secchi depth, water temperature, Dissolved Oxygen) and collect epi-limnetic water samples for lab analysis at Lakeside’s Waitt Water Quality Lab. Water samples are analyzed by a lab technician for chlorophyll “a”, total nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, and total phosphorus.
CLAMP provides a uniform approach to lake monitoring so data can be compared between lakes and over time. However, CLAMP is but one component of Lakeside’s overall water quality research program, which is aimed at developing a nutrient budget for the Iowa Great Lakes region, identifying key sources of nutrient inputs, and evaluating effectiveness of conservation agriculture practices on reducing nutrient input.
Lakeside’s research program began in 1998 by developing a database of all historical data gathered in the Iowa Great Lakes region. Thus, CLAMP is the most recent development in a long history of lake monitoring in Dickinson County. Jane Shuttleworth, CLAMP Coordinator, will review the historical trends and water quality changes indicated by the data as well as the history of data gathering efforts in the region.
Nutrient Monitoring in the Cedar River Watershed
Martin St. Clair
Knowledge of nutrient concentrations in small watersheds is of interest both in understanding the dynamics of the larger watershed as well as for identifying key areas for implementation of best management practices. Results from four summers of monitoring nutrient concentrations in several small watersheds in Eastern Iowa will be presented, with a particular emphasis on daily monitoring carried out in the summer of 2002. A more detailed spatial analysis of one watershed with significant rural and urban components will also be reported. Analysis of the data with respect to land use and soil types will be discussed.
Occurrence and Formation of Nitrosoamines in Drinking Water
Nitroso compounds are a class that includes numerous carcinogens, mutagens, and tetratogens. Approximately 300 of these compounds have been tested, and 90% of them have been found to be carcinogenic in a wide variety of experimental animals. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a particularly potent example of this class. Risk assessments from the USEPA identify a theoretical 10-6 lifetime risk level of cancer from NDMA exposures as 0.7 ng/L. Risk assessments from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment identify lifetime de minimis (i.e., 10-6) risk levels of cancer from NDMA exposures as 0.002 ppb (2 ng/L) while the California Department of Health Services currently specifies an action level of 10 ng/L. Action levels are considered by the CDHS to be advisory levels and not enforceable standards. Currently, there are no federal drinking water standards for any nitrosocompounds.
Until recently it was believed that the occurrence of nitroso compounds in drinking water and wastewater was due to contamination of the source water. Recent observations indicate that NDMA can be produced during water and wastewater treatment as a consequence of chlorination and chloramination. Formation of other nitroso compounds by similar mechanisms is also suspected. Furthermore, it hypothesized that water supplies receiving municipal and industrial waste discharges, and agriculture related wastes are particularly susceptible to nitroso compound formation. This suggests a possible novel and direct linkage between certain point and non-point pollution sources and human health. This presentation will focus on what we currently know about nitroso compound formation and occurrence in drinking source water.
Dynamics of Water Quality: Human Values, Beliefs, Perceptions, and Knowledge
We need to understand and integrate both physical data and social dynamics to enhance water quality in Iowa. People ultimately determine how land is used and managed, and therefore whether water is polluted or protected. Technical factors and social dynamics also vary from community to community. Monitoring and modeling are frequently employed to characterize the physical dynamics of water pollution. The social dynamics of affected communities, however, are rarely characterized despite the fact that residents’ values, beliefs, perceptions, and knowledge powerfully influence the outcome of water quality projects.
This research presents findings from social research in four ongoing Iowa water quality enhancement projects: Clear Lake, Cedar Lake near Winterset, Squaw Creek Watershed in Hamilton, Boone, and Story counties, and Briggs Woods Lake near Webster City. We identified significant differences in assumptions and understanding between residents of affected communities and the experts working with them. These differences complicated project communication and decision-making. We also identified conflicts between local beliefs and the practices proposed by experts to enhance water quality.
These data were collected using an assessment technique that is under development and being tested in Iowa. The technique informs project decision-making by watershed coordinators, state and federal natural resources agency staff, conservation districts, and project researchers. Given the high number of communities and watersheds in Iowa with impaired water and the need for landowner acceptance of enhancement plans to meet project objectives, methodologies to collect and integrate this type of social information will be essential.
The Iowa Community Private Well Study: Random Communities
Limited data are available on drinking water quality in Iowa communities served exclusively by private wells, as monitoring requirements mandated under the Safe Drinking Water Act apply only to public water systems (>25 hook-ups). These private drinking water wells may be at increased risk of contamination due to the proximate location of both urban and agricultural pollutant sources and because they tend to utilize vulnerable aquifer systems.
This project involved a one-time sampling (between June 2002-January 2003) of 103 randomly selected private wells in a total of 50 incorporated communities in Iowa without public water supplies. Water samples were analyzed for nitrogen-containing herbicides, bacteria, nitrate (NO3-N), ammonia, volatile organic compounds and arsenic. Well owners were surveyed for well construction, water treatment and potential contaminant source information. Water sampling and survey administration was completed by county sanitarians. Thirty-two percent of the wells tested had a pesticide detection. The more commonly detected pesticides included atrazine (19.4% of wells), desethylatrazine (28.2%), desisopropylatrazine (3.9%) and metolachlor (3.9 %). Other commonly detected contaminants included nitrate (57.3%), ammonia (40.8%), arsenic (26.2%) and total coliform bacteria (30.1%). Shallower wells (£ 50 feet, n=32) were more susceptible than deeper wells (>50 feet, n=44) to contamination from pesticides (atrazine: 28.1% vs. 13.6% respectively; desethyl atrazine: 46.9% vs. 13.6%) and nitrate (93.8% vs. 29.5%), while deeper wells had more arsenic detections than shallow wells (32% and 16%, respectively).
These findings corroborate results of a 1988-89 Iowa survey of private well water quality (Iowa Statewide Rural Well Water Survey) and may be used to correlate general vulnerability of private wells within communities across Iowa and other Midwestern states.
The Iowa Community Private Well Study: Focus Communities
The University (State) Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) and the Center for the Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) at the University of Iowa, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and county environmental health specialists conducted a statewide study of water quality in small towns that use private wells for drinking water. Drinking water from a private well is not monitored under any state or federal program. For the focus study, county environmental health specialists collected water samples and surveyed well owners for 133 selected private wells within 15 incorporated Iowa communities in the summer and fall of 2002. Participation in the study was voluntary.
The focus study analyzed samples for several contaminants currently regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act for public water supplies in Iowa. Contaminants checked in these samples included bacteria, nitrate, metals (including arsenic), common use herbicides and insecticides, industrial chemicals, and gasoline constituents. A summary of the study design and results including contaminants detected and detections that exceeded drinking water standards or other health based standards will be presented.
Terence Cain, Lorelei Kurimski, and Michael Wichman: University (State) Hygienic Laboratory Peter Weyer and David Riley: UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination Jessica Ferrie: Dept of Occupational and Environmental Health, UI College of Public Health David Osterberg: UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center Douglas Schnoebelen: U.S. Geological Survey
Nutrients and Stream Health
We know that nutrients are essential to all living things. The question is, can there be too much of a good thing? Iowa is blessed with fertile and productive land, which means Iowa’s streams also tend to be nutrient-rich. While stream nutrient levels occur in somewhat predictable patterns, the occurrence of problems associated with nutrients are less predictable. This presentation will explore relationships between nutrients and stream health indicators, and will discuss factors that contribute to adverse nutrient impacts.