Water Quality Task Force Meeting
Jim Baumann (2)
Brian Thompson (3)
USACE, Rock Island District
USACE, Rock Island District
Karen Hagerty (1)
USACE, Rock Island District
Marvin Hubbell (1)
USACE, Rock Island District
Chuck Theiling (1)
USACE, Rock Island District
Jeff Houser (1)
USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental
UMRBA/US EPA Region 5
(1) Attended first day only.
(2) Participated by phone first and second day.
(3) Participated by phone second day only.
Call to Order and Introductions
The meeting of the Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) was called to order at by Gregg Good. Introductions of all in attendance followed.
Corrections to Previous Meeting Summary
Dave Hokanson asked whether there were any corrections to the summary of the September 2009 WQTF meeting. No corrections were requested.
UMRBA Water Quality Activities Update and Meeting Preview
Hokanson provided a summary of the water quality-related
discussions engaged in by the UMRBA Board and Water Quality Executive Committee
(WQEC) during their November 2009 meetings in
Hokanson next gave a brief overview of the WQTF meeting agenda and offered to address any questions regarding the agenda. No questions were raised.
Interstate 305(b) Assessment and 303(d) Listing Consultation
Good noted that Illinois EPA produces an integrated 305(b)
assessment and 303(d) listing report. He
Mohsen Dkhili reported that
Larry Shepard observed that US EPA’s recent action may have reflected, in part, direction from the new Administration. Good asked whether the driving issue regarding the use designation was bacteria levels. Dkhili replied that bacteria levels, and the relationship to disinfection requirements for the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), were primary issues.
Bill Franz highlighted two points made in the US EPA decision
letter: 1) recreation does take place in
this segment of the UMR and 2) MSD has not been able to demonstrate that
disinfection is not economically feasible.
Matt Short noted that a disinfection exemption is in place for one mile
in the Sauget area on the
Shepard added that hydrokinetics could be a related issue, as US EPA has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider the relationship between hydrokinetic installations and recreation uses.
Franz asked Dkhili about the status of
John Olson said that US EPA Region 7 is currently reviewing
Marvin Hora reported that US EPA has approved
Ken Barr asked whether the Pool 2 PFOS issue would have any relevance for walleye. Hora responded that walleye are “put and take” in this area of the river and that it is therefore unlikely that walleye would trigger any fish consumption advisories or resulting impairment determinations.
Sullivan asked whether
Hora also commented that MPCA is revising its approach to assessment to align with the state’s watershed monitoring design.
Jim Baumann reported that Wisconsin’s 2008 impairment list
is pending before US EPA, and that the state expects to hear back soon. He also said public comment on the 2010 list was
just completed and he anticipates Wisconsin DNR will submit its 2010 list to US
EPA in April 2010. Franz commented that
he expects US EPA will approve
Baumann next addressed
No further comments or reports regarding assessment and listing were provided by US EPA staff.
Upcoming Issues for UMR Assessment and Listing
Sullivan asked Hora about
Hora observed that the issue may be tied to how
Other Agency and Organization Updates
Hora distributed a handout summarizing the status of the
Lake Pepin TMDL and related efforts, noting in particular that a site-specific TSS
criterion for the south metro Mississippi River (32 parts per million summer average for stations at Lock and Dams No. 2
and No. 3) is being proposed at this time. Site-specific criteria for nutrients are not
being proposed currently. Instead, nutrients for this reach will be addressed in
conjunction with the development of nutrient criteria for
Dkhili asked how
Good said reductions in staff and funding continue to have a
substantial impact on programs at Illinois EPA, as well as at Illinois DNR. He noted that Illinois
Dkhili said staffing reductions are also a challenge for
Olson said Chris Yoder has completed a review of Iowa
Hora commented that program funding within MPCA is varied, depending on whether a particular program is receiving funds from the Clean Water Legacy Act or not. He added that even when Legacy Act funds are available, they are intended for use on new projects only. Hora observed that Legacy Act funds have allowed for some staff to be retained by shifting them to Legacy projects. He added funding limitations are generally impacting the ability of staff to travel.
Baumann said he would provide his report during dedicated
discussion time on nutrient issues the following day, as the majority of his
comments would focus on
US EPA Region 7
Shepard said Karl Brooks has been named Regional Administrator for Region 7. Senior staff will now begin the process of briefing the new Administrator. Shepard commented that these briefings may provide an opportunity to bring large river issues to the Brooks’ attention. Shepard suggested that UMRBA may wish to use this time to reintroduce itself to the Region and revisit the question of the Region’s participation in the WQTF.
US EPA Region 5
Franz said that there has not been any news regarding the
appointment of a new Regional Administrator.
Bharat Mathur continues as Acting Regional Administrator. Franz observed that the US EPA decision
UMRCC Water Quality Tech Section
Matt Short gave a brief report on the November 2009 meeting
of the UMRCC Water Quality Tech Section.
He noted that items discussed at the Tech Section included fish
management/Asian carp on the Illinois River and
Hokanson reported that Andy Lindstrom of US EPA will soon be
submitting a manuscript to Environmental
Science & Technology regarding the UMR PFC sampling project. If the
WQTF members have any additional comments, they should submit them to Andy as
soon as possible. [Note: The manuscript
was submitted on
CWA Programs and the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program
Current Use of LTRMP Data by CWA Programs
Hokanson provided an overview of the current use of LTRMP data by UMR CWA programs and distributed a summary document on this topic. He indicated that the discussion was at least in part being driven by the question of “Why don’t CWA programs make more use of LTRMP data?” He offered the following initial observations in answer to this question:
§ It’s not a question of if CWA programs use LTRMP data, but rather how and how much.
§ Use of LTRMP data has been growing over time in CWA programs.
§ LTRMP is not the only external data set that CWA programs use.
§ Applications of LTRMP data are emerging beyond just 305(b) assessments and 303(d) listings (e.g., Lake Pepin TMDL).
§ There are several parameters (e.g., DO, pH, ammonia) from the LTRMP water quality component that appear to be most immediately useful to CWA programs.
§ Fixed site data is used most widely by CWA programs. Stratified random sampling data is less frequently used.
§ The states do not have numeric criteria for many of the LTRMP water quality parameters, and LTRMP does not monitor for many of the parameters for which there are numeric criteria (e.g., metals and toxics).
§ Currently, CWA programs do not have standards that can make use of LTRMP’s biological data – i.e., its vegetation, fish, and macroinvertebrate components.
§ Data access and availability may not present as great a challenge as previously thought, and may not be unique to LTRMP.
§ Work on designated uses and biological assessment may provide additional opportunities to make use of LTRMP data in CWA programs.
§ Other emerging applications in CWA programs may also provide opportunities for continuing or increased use of data.
§ Adding location information to LTRMP data sets available via the web may be very helpful.
§ There may be a role for greater cross-program involvement and training
§ Each program area might consider the other in future activities (e.g., in standards development, sampling design, outpool sampling, strategic planning, etc.).
Hokanson emphasized that these were just initial observations and that the document distributed is very much a draft. He said that the purpose of this session’s other presentations and discussion is to further explore these issues.
LTRMP Overview, Data Sets, and Data Availability
Jeff Houser said his presentation would focus on what information LTRMP collects and where/how that data can be accessed. He next gave an overview of the LTRMP’s components [i.e., water quality, fisheries, vegetation, macroinvertebrates (no longer monitored)] and affiliated data sets and tools (e.g., bathymetry, land use/land cover, GIS, and decision support systems). Houser also described the five study reaches on the UMR where the LTRMP base monitoring is done, the water quality parameters for which LTRMP samples, and the two parts of LTRMP’s monitoring design [i.e., stratified random sampling (SRS) and fixed site sampling (FSS)].
In response to a question from Short, Houser said that SRS locations for water quality sampling are randomly chosen for each sampling event each year. Sullivan noted that SRS site selection is based on land use/land cover information. He asked if any SRS sites have actually changed their strata classification due to river dynamics. Karen Hagerty noted that this issue had also been raised in the context of LTRMP fish sampling. Houser replied that not many sites have been affected in this way. He said that, while some adjustment in site classification might ultimately be needed, it is not a significant issue in considering LTRMP data.
Dkhili asked how randomization is accomplished for SRS sites. Houser said a grid is applied over a strata and sites are randomly selected from intersects on the grid. Chuck Theiling asked whether site selection was area-weighted. Houser replied that this is not the case. He added that backwaters are sampled more intensively for water quality than the main channel because they are expected to be more diverse.
Houser continued his presentation by describing LTRMP vegetation sampling. Vegetation monitoring was not initiated as early in the program as water quality monitoring. Sampling for vegetation is currently conducted once per year via rake sampling.
In response to a question from Marvin Hubbell, Houser said the vegetation component also incorporates some observational data. Dave Bierl asked whether any FSS is conducted for vegetation or whether it was all SRS. Houser and Hagerty replied that there is no FSS for vegetation.
Houser also described LTRMP fish monitoring, noting that five gears are currently used, with 7-9 strata for SRS, and three sampling periods per year.
Houser next demonstrated how to access data through the LTRMP website (www.umesc.usgs.gov/ltrmp.html). He showed how to access raw data sets and how to use LTRMP’s graphical browsers to view SRS and FSS data.
Short asked what “station 7” was in some of the LTRMP data. Houser replied that data for this “station” was collected using LTRMP equipment, but did not take place in one of the LTRMP study reaches.
Dkhili asked whether LTRMP reviews its monitoring protocols in light of what is being observed in the data. Houser replied that LTRMP does consider this, but also noted that LTRMP is a generalist program and that no major changes to monitoring are currently anticipated. Dkhili next asked whether there is a standard depth at which water samples are collected. Houser replied that water quality samples are usually taken at 0.2 meters, unless there is a reason to believe that stratification may be taking place, such as may occur with dissolved oxygen.
Hubbell reminded the group that the LTRMP is part of USACE’s
Environmental Management Program (
John Olson commented that he has trouble determining the locations of fixed sites. In response, Houser demonstrated how to get this information from the LTRMP graphical browser.
Good asked whether the decision to discontinue macroinvertebrate monitoring was strictly financial in nature. Hubbell responded that this was the case, and Hagerty added that LTRMP’s strategic plan does address the reinstatement of macroinvertebrate monitoring should funding permit. Sullivan noted that there are a number of questions surrounding macroinvertebrate monitoring. Hagerty said obtaining meaningful macroinvertebrate information proved particularly challenging on the lower reaches of the UMR.
Hubbell asked whether FSS were the data sets most commonly
used by the state CWA programs.
Hubbell asked whether LTRMP fish sampling could provide the information needed for CWA bioassessment. Short replied that this was not clear yet as the methodology for doing UMR CWA bioassessments had not yet been agreed to. Theiling observed that one challenge is that most multimetric indices are only applicable to wadeable streams. Houser observed that if a selected metric is based on relative abundance, then LTRMP data should be helpful, depending on what exactly is needed. Sullivan noted that a publication comparing various IBIs (including those from WI DNR and EMAP) is forthcoming.
Theiling suggested that the lack of an agreed-upon reference condition will also be a challenge. Dave Bolgrien noted that EMAP has already done some work on UMR reference conditions.
Bolgrien asked whether LTRMP also collects discharge information along with its samples. Houser replied that LTRMP does not directly collect discharge information but he explained that discharges are available from USGS and can be matched up with LTMRP data. Dkhili commented that this information may be needed in determining compliance with water quality standards. Theiling also suggested it may be important to look at river stage, as well as flow.
User Perspectives on Applying LTRMP data for CWA Purposes
Sullivan provided a detailed example of how
Dkhili asked how monitoring is going to be conducted to determine if the 32 mg/l site-specific TSS criterion is being met. Sullivan responded that the criterion will be compared to monitoring data collected at Lock & Dam 2 and Lock & Dam 3. Bolgrien asked what the scope of monitoring will be to measure whether the SAV criterion is being achieved. Sullivan replied that approximately 100 sites will be sampled on annual basis, at least until more information is gathered, which might trigger modifications in the sampling protocol.
Short described IL EPA’s ambient water quality monitoring program for the UMR. He also compared IL EPA’s sampling sites to LTRMP’s sampling sites and the parameters monitored by IL EPA versus those monitored by LTRMP. Short also noted that IL EPA utilizes LTRMP FSS data currently, but does not use SRS data.
Theiling asked whether data are only examined for a single season or whether data from throughout the year are utilized. Short replied that data are used from throughout the year. He further explained that IL EPA issues a formal solicitation for data to be used in its assessments. Typically, water chemistry data needs to come from at least 3 years of routine sampling for the state to use it. Short then described the process by which he typically extracts LTRMP data for use in IL EPA’s assessments, noting that IL EPA has not determined how it might incorporate SRS data into assessments.
Short commented that IL EPA’s own data typically is the driving data source for assessments, but that he has observed good concurrence between IL EPA’s data and data received from other sources, including LTRMP. He noted, however, that field-quantified data, such as pH and dissolved oxygen, has showed more variation due to factors such as the time of the day at which the data was collected.
Houser asked whether the primary issue with the states’ use of SRS data is that it does not provide data from the same site every year. Short replied that this is indeed a primary issue and that it is difficult for the states to integrate this type of data into their assessment methodologies. Houser asked whether a pool could be considered a “site” in this context and if a pool-wide mean could be used for determining compliance with criteria. Short replied that the states would need to develop a way to account for this type of data alongside single site-based data sets. He added that IL EPA’s lake assessments do combine data from multiple points into a trophic state index, but that similar approaches are not yet developed for rivers.
Hubbell asked whether all the states use LTRMP in a fashion
similar to what Short had described.
Sullivan and Hora indicated that
Hora asked whether LTRMP considers data collected by states and others to “fill the gaps” in its data. Houser replied that this was not done and would be a very substantial amount of work.
Challenges and Opportunities Regarding Enhanced Collaboration and Use of Data
Good asked the WQTF members whether there are any water quality parameters for which LTRMP does not currently sample that would be particularly valuable for CWA programs. Houser noted that the marginal cost of adding additional parameters to LTRMP sampling may be relatively small. Sullivan commented that most of the impairments current listed are not associated with parameters sampled by the LTRMP.
Hubbell commented that the LTRMP has recently completed a strategic plan that specifically identifies the possibility of building on LTRMP’s base monitoring platform using resources from other programs to better meet those programs’ needs. He added that looking for partnership opportunities may allow for both more data to be available and more stable funding for LTRMP. Sullivan noted that EMAP work may also help inform LTRMP’s biological component.
Hokanson observed that possible areas for future discussion and potential collaboration appear to include: 1) greater use of SRS data by state CWA programs, 2) exploring ways to better integrate biological data into state CWA programs, and 3) considering possible future monitoring partnerships.
UMR Reach Planning
Theiling gave an overview of the UMR reach planning process
being led by USACE. He explained that
future restoration projects, whether under
In describing the status of the reach planning effort, Theiling stated that objectives, unique characteristics, and stressors for the four floodplain reaches have been identified and published. He said that reach planning groups in the floodplain reaches met approximately three times each through the course of the fall and that a report is now in draft describing reach planning outcomes on a system-wide basis.
Theiling observed that the objective setting process has cross-discipline, cross-program value, noting that some of the objectives are affected by conditions outside of the floodplain. These may well require actions by other programs to be achieved.
Theiling said that the reach planning process is now moving into a phase of seeking to identify areas at the sub-geomorphic reach scale where restoration projects could help achieve identified goals. He noted that in some cases these projects will address water quality goals.
Dkhili asked what is meant by “restore sediment regimes” in the reach objectives. Theiling replied that depends on the specific reach. Hubbell concurred and emphasized that this was part of the value of planning by distinct reaches, which allows objectives to reflect the specific desired conditions for those reaches.
Theiling noted that GIS can be employed to illustrate the impacts of potential projects and identify areas where there may be efficiencies achieved in coordinating work on projects. Ken Barr said that the number of subareas being examined is approximately 10 per pool, but that the exact number depends on the complexity of the pool.
Hokanson asked Theiling what he sees as needs for input from the WQTF as the reach planning process moves forward and what he thinks about the different reach designations being employed by the CWA and restoration programs. Theiling responded that GIS allows for easy cross-matching of different reaches and that he therefore does not necessarily see a need to harmonize the reaches.
Sullivan stated that it is important to articulate any criteria that will be associated with reach planning efforts (e.g., numeric criteria for supporting habitat objectives, such as for dissolved oxygen) and to be explicit regarding where these apply. Theiling replied that the reach planning process has the ability to accommodate spatial distinctions. Franz emphasized the importance of this. As an example, Franz noted that desired sediment levels may be very different for upper and lower UMR reaches.
Theiling noted that the aquatic areas being employed in reach planning are different than LTRMP strata. Houser commented that LTRMP strata are groupings of the more specific strata being used in reach planning. Barr asked what aquatic areas were being used in reach planning. Theiling replied that the areas being used were those documented in Dan Wilcox’s 1993 paper, plus some additional digitization.
Barr thanked the WQTF members for their participation in the reach planning process thus far. He asked members whether they view their participation as having been useful and whether they had any suggestions regarding their engagement going forward. Barr emphasized that he wants to maintain a connection to the WQTF as reach planning proceeds. Short replied that the WQTF would like to stay engaged, while acknowledging that some of the reach planning discussions extend beyond water quality staff’s areas of expertise. Sullivan expressed an interest in any monitoring that is done to assess project outcomes.
Designated Use Project Update
Year 1 Project Report
Peg Donnelly reviewed the contents of the Year 1 report for UMR designated uses project. She noted that she is looking for feedback both regarding the content and the format of the report, and commented that this report may provide a template for the project’s final report. Donnelly also said that while this report is intended for the use of the WQTF and WQEC, the final project report will potentially be provided to a wider audience.
Good and Short commented that the number of uses assessed by
Good suggested that the discussion of impairment listings should be integrated into the state-by-state program descriptions.
Hora commented that some waterbody-specific approaches have
evolved over time, such as those for the
Sullivan asked whether it would be helpful in Table 1 to
also list uses that are not applied to the UMR. Dkhili commented that recreation, aquatic
life, and drinking water are the only uses Missouri
Good said that the focus of the report and the project should
be most specifically on the aquatic life use component. He suggested that the text currently
contained on pages 18-19 under “Designated Uses on the UMR” should be the lead
text for the report. Bolgrien proposed
that Table 1 be made more specific to address designated aquatic life uses
only. Olson stated that he concurred
with Good’s recommendation to move the text on pages 18-19 to the front of the
report, and also cautioned the WQTF not to be become too concerned with
perfecting the background information as it was more important to move forward
in considering new ways to approach aquatic life use designations. He also indicated that
Hokanson suggested that perhaps the project should really be referred to as the “aquatic life designated use project,” rather than the “designated uses project,” in order to convey the project’s focus. He also reiterated his understanding that the WQTF wants to pursue the application of specific metrics in the main channel, while the designated use project further defines meaningful lateral distinctions among UMR strata. Olson and Sullivan affirmed this understanding.
Sullivan suggested that a methodology description might be helpful in understanding currently designated aquatic life uses, as the meanings of use designations are often captured within the methodologies.
Next Steps/Year 2 Work Plan
Hokanson emphasized that it is important for the WQTF to articulate priorities and direction to guide Donnelly’s work. Good agreed, but stated that the WQTF needed to be clear on where it was before it could consider next steps. Barb Naramore suggested that the WQTF members should take another look at the project work plan before deciding on next steps.
Donnelly stated that the water chemistry data she has reviewed to date do not by themselves suggest aquatic life classifications and that, depending on season, the parameter ranges can overlap significantly between strata. She emphasized that water chemistry data alone are not going to “draw a map” of potential aquatic life use designations.
Sullivan stated that biological data should really be what drives distinctions in aquatic life use designations. Dkhili concurred that ideally biology would be the driver, but said chemistry data is more commonly available and can be relatively easily shared among states.
Good asked the WQTF members if they wanted to see biological data in the next report from Donnelly. Hora said this would be appropriate. Donnelly asked what the group had in mind for biological data beyond fish. Sullivan replied that fish and macroinvertebrate might be the first place to start. He added that recent Ramsar designation for the UMR floodplain wetlands should also be considered in the context of the project.
Availability of EMAP-GRE Data
Bolgrien said that EMAP-GRE data is available upon request, and that anyone interested in obtaining data should contact him or contact Ted Angradi. He said the data will eventually be available via the web. Angradi added that, while the data can certainly be shared, EMAP-GRE was primarily intended to develop tools rather than acquire and serve data.
EMAP-GRE Findings: Thresholds, Condition Extent, and Relative Risk Estimates
Angradi gave a brief overview of the EMAP-GRE program and then described the concepts of condition class threshold (CCT) and relative risk (RR). He described the CCT as a number that separates most disturbed condition (MDC) from an intermediate condition or that separates an intermediate condition from a least disturbed condition (LDC). Angradi emphasized that CCTs are not general reference conditions for great rivers, but are context specific. He also noted that they are an integration of available information and professional judgment. Angradi next described RR as the probability that a biological indicator is in poor condition when stress is high relative to the probability that a biological indicator is in poor condition when stress is low.
Angradi displayed extent estimates for a variety of biotic
indicators (e.g., fish assemblage, benthos, mercury toxicity to various
species, macrophyte cover) on the UMR, Missouri River, and
Angradi next showed RR estimates for several biotic indicators (specifically, fish assemblage, benthos, aquatic vegetation, toxicity to kingfisher) in terms of their response to various stressors (e.g., channel complexity, urbanization, floodplain agriculture). He noted that the highest RRs were for those stressors affecting toxicity to wildlife and that, across rivers, the most significant RRs were those resulting from urbanization, followed by water quality stressors. However, Angradi noted that there were several “implausible” RR estimates. Additionally, he cautioned that a correlation between a stressor and biotic indicator in an RR does not necessarily imply causation. In summary, Angradi said that RRs can be a powerful tool, but they need to be used carefully.
Sullivan asked whether any states are using RR in their CWA assessments. Bolgrien replied that no states appear to be using RRs this time, and that the approach emerged from work in medical literature. Angradi noted that there are currently some limits to the applicability of RRs in the CWA setting.
US EPA Region 7
Nutrient Survey of UMR,
Shepard described Region 7’s recent nutrient sampling as an attempt to “ground truth” modeling and other ongoing efforts to estimate nutrient contributions. He said that Region 7 has completed spring, summer, and fall sampling on the mainstems of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers (4 sites each), as well as tributaries (16 sites on Mississippi River tributaries and 18 sites on Missouri River tributaries). Shepard described the sampling approach as grab samples collected at one meter depth and at a distance of two meters from shore.
Shepard next displayed charts with the results of the
monitoring, noting that there were large differences in spring results relative
to summer and fall results. He explained
that higher flows in spring very likely contribute to higher concentrations of
nutrients. Shepard also noted that, for
Angradi asked what was thought to be the cause of relatively
high levels of phosphorous in the
The meeting adjourned for the day at and reconvened the following day at
Day 1 Reflection/Day 2 Overview
The meeting’s second day began with the WQTF revisiting a number of items from the first day, as described below.
Designated Use Project – Next Steps/Data Analysis
Good noted that, based on the preceding day’s discussions, there appears to be a need to further shape the data analysis component of the designated use project. He presented a proposal for moving forward as follows:
§ Continue to focus on examining LTRMP data in the program’s study pools.
§ Elements of this work will include: 1) all five study pools on the UMR; 2) previously identified chemical parameters; 3) biological data; 4) examining at least five years of data (SRS and fixed site); 5) focusing on spring (high flow) and summer (low flow), as distinct analyses; and 6) looking at measures of central tendency, but also ranges.
§ Goal of the data analyses continues to be to determine where differences between LTRMP strata are demonstrated that would potentially justify separate consideration for use designation in a CWA context.
§ To expedite the process and make it most effective, the WQTF will first share questions/areas of inquiry with LTRMP principle investigators (PIs) for water quality (Jeff Houser) and fish (Brian Ickes), and seek their assistance and guidance. The process for this will be: 1) Donnelly will draft information for transmittal to PIs within one week; 2) one week will be allowed for WQTF review, then the request will be transmitted to PIs; and 3) the WQTF will hold a conference call in 6-8 weeks and Donnelly will present the outcomes of her initial data review.
Franz asked if the work proposed appeared to be doable within the time frame suggested. Donnelly replied that this did not appear to be a problem, at least in terms of providing initial results within 6-8 weeks. Naramore said that the conference call would provide for a “check-in” point to assess status and progress.
Sullivan suggested that tests for significant differences be done for the parameters by strata and by season. He also suggested that only SRS data be used in this examination, as the FSS sample size is limited and it may be challenging to integrate FSS and SRS data. All agreed that FSS data should not be included in this phase of the data analysis.
Olson raised the question of whether there is a distinction that needs to be made between strata and habitat. Sullivan replied that the best starting point is to use the LTRMP strata.
Good also reminded the WQTF members that they should provide any comments on the Year 1 Report to Donnelly.
CWA Program Use of LTRMP Data
Hokanson asked WQTF members for any suggested follow up to the preceding day’s discussion on the use of LTRMP data by CWA programs. He asked specifically whether he should update the draft summary document shared the previous day.
Olson replied that he did not see any near-term requests to be made of LTRMP. He added that, eventually, he would like to be better able to integrate SRS into CWA assessments and that it is important for the WQTF to maintain communication with LTRMP staff. Short supported updating the summary document, and Franz suggested that this document then be shared with LTRMP staff. Short agreed, and observed that eventually there may be opportunities to facilitate cooperative monitoring efforts.
Olson said that it may be worth noting the gap in LTRMP data collection between Pools 13 and 26 as part of the summary. Sullivan asked if this would be expressed as a specific need and, if so, what kind of monitoring would be sought. Bolgrien commented that the addition of another study pool seemed unlikely, but that some “outpool” sampling might be possible. Naramore suggested that, for the purposes of the summary document, it would be best simply to identify the gap and leave related discussion for other venues.
UMR Reach Planning
Hora commented that the differing reach segmentation schemes among programs continue to be a source of potential confusion. Shepard said that the reach planning effort continues to be important, but asked whether there may be a more efficient and effective way for the WQTF to engage. He suggested that a possible alternate approach would be to assign a “lead” from the WQTF to attend the meetings and/or to request regular updates on reach planning at WQTF meetings.
Hokanson asked how much effort should be put into pursuing harmonization of reaches. Good said that he didn’t recommend putting a lot of energy into this at the current time, and the WQTF members expressed general agreement with this view. Sullivan suggested that it is more important to focus on consistency within the CWA context, and on fish consumption advisories’ effect on impairment listings in particular.
Nutrient Criteria Issues
State Development of Nutrient Criteria
Good said that Tetra Tech and other researchers have been working with Illinois EPA and so far they have observed only weak responses to elevated nutrient levels. Olson commented that Iowa DNR has been focused on nutrient criteria for lakes. He said recommendations for criteria on rivers and streams may be available in about three years. He noted that Tom Wilton is Iowa DNR’s lead for nutrient criteria development.
Dkhili said that
Hora said that
Baumann stated that Wisconsin
US EPA Perspectives on Nutrient Criteria/Recent Developments
Shepard said US EPA Region 7 has been reviewing work done by
Brian Thompson of US EPA Region 5 gave a brief overview of the Region 5 states’ development of nutrient criteria, as a supplement to the earlier state reports, as follows:
In addition to the activities described by
Baumann and related to phosphorus criteria development,
Thompson stated that the issue of downstream impacts seems
to be becoming more prevalent. He said
that, while it is not apparent how this will end up being addressed nationally,
there are some observations that can be made from the ruling in the
Hora emphasized the critical nature of this issue, and said it is very important for the states to be aware of this as they develop nutrient criteria. He expressed concern that an approach governed by downstream impacts could both undo years of work already completed and potentially lead to criteria that are not protective of local uses.
Notice of Intent to Sue Regarding
Baumann said a group of seven environmental groups filed a
Notice of Intent to Sue with US EPA on
Thompson commented that US EPA’s Headquarters is driving the response to the Notice, and that he is hopeful a response will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. Baumann said a consent agreement is one possible outcome, where a suit would not necessarily be filed but a timetable established for the development of criteria. Thompson agreed that this is indeed a possible outcome.
Olson observed that the
Basin-Wide Activities Regarding Nutrients and
Hypoxia Task Force/Hypoxia Action Plan
Franz noted that each state has made a commitment to establishing state nutrient reduction plans with the goal of reducing phosphorous and nitrogen loading and thus ultimately the size of the Gulf hypoxic zone. He added that many states are looking to the USDA’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) as part of their efforts to reduce nutrient loading.
Franz said that the Hypoxia Task Force will meet next on
Dkhili asked whether the Action Plan and state nutrient
reduction plans would affect the
Olson and Hora indicated that they were not closely involved
with Hypoxia Task Force-related activities in their states. Dkhili noted that
Franz said all the states that are part of the MRBI have
selected their target watersheds. He
also noted that Mike Sullivan, previously the primary contact for MRBI within
USDA is now serving as the State Conservationist for
Good asked how much input the states had in selecting the
MRBI target watersheds, noting that he had participated in one meeting in
Olson commented that
NRC Panel: Clean
Water Act Implementation Across the
Hokanson reported that the NRC examining
CWA implementation in the
604(b) Project Update and Planning
Hokanson provided an update on the status
of the 604(b)-funded project, noting that agreements are in place with four
Hokanson said that the
Hokanson asked who the WQTF members would recommend for involvement in the biological assessment and nutrient project components, beyond the regular participants in the WQTF. The following individuals were named for the biological assessment component: Roy Smogor (IL), Tom Wilton (IA), Will Bouchard (MN), Ed Hammer (Region 5), and Gary Welker (Region 7). No specific names were given for the nutrient component.
Sullivan asked what added value the WQTF members anticipate from the nutrient synthesis report. Olson suggested that examining nitrate toxicity could be part of the effort. Hora indicated that a statewide summary of phosphorous levels is available for review, though a bit dated (about 5 years old). Franz suggested that work on other large rivers could be examined. Good emphasized the importance of looking for local impacts on the UMR. Olson said that examining impacts on drinking water treatment would be worthwhile.
Good said that the nutrient effects identified should be categorized into each of the major designated uses assigned by the states to the UMR, i.e., aquatic life, drinking water, and recreation. Shepard stated that it is important for this effort to focus on response to nutrients, as this has been hard to quantify. Hokanson asked if there are recreational impacts resulting from elevated nutrients. Sullivan responded that filamentous algae in low velocity areas have an impact on recreational activities, such as canoeing. Donnelly concurred with this observation.
Short suggested that it will also be important to consider nutrient loading from point sources. Franz indicated that a report is available on this subject that he could share. Short commented that the project should seek out any newly generated nutrient data sets.
Hokanson and Naramore asked whether the WQTF members preferred to have project-specific meetings synchronized with each other and WQTF meetings, or whether these project-specific sessions should be held separately. The consensus of the group was to synchronize to the extent feasible.
Hokanson asked for suggestions on possible topics for the cross-program workshops that fall under “Task 3” of the 604(b) project proposal. Sullivan suggested a session to examine the states’ definitions of wetlands and how they distinguish between shallow lakes and wetlands, as well as any water quality criteria applied to wetlands. Hora agreed that this was an issue to potentially examine. Good suggested that hydrokinetics could be a possible workshop topic.
Schedule Next Meeting and Conference Call
Hokanson said that the next meeting of the WQTF will likely take place in April 2010 in conjunction with the first work session of the biological assessment guidance project. He added that a conference call to address the data analyses under the designated uses project will be held in 6-8 weeks. Hokanson indicated that he would be in communication with the WQTF regarding scheduling for these events.
The meeting adjourned at