Water Quality Task Force
Dave Hokanson UMRBA
Kirsten Mickelsen UMRBA
Barb Naramore UMRBA
*Participated via conference call.
Call to Order and Introductions
The Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) meeting was called to order by Jim Baumann, WQTF Chair, at Introductions of all in attendance followed.
Designated Uses for the UMR: Project Status and Discussion Preview
Dave Hokanson provided a brief status report on the WQTF’s “UMR Designated Uses” project. He also previewed the discussion of designated uses to take place in this WQTF meeting, noting that, while most of the discussion would focus on the aquatic life use, there would also be consideration of other uses, including contact recreation and drinking water. Hokanson added that, in general, goals for the designated use discussion at today’s meeting might be: 1) clarity of thinking regarding an approach to UMR aquatic areas/habitats, and 2) identification of deliverables associated with the project.
Designated Uses for the UMR: Non-Aquatic Life Uses
Drinking Water Use
Baumann asked the group whether work on the drinking water use designation was a priority for consideration at this time. He added that Wisconsin does not currently have a drinking water use assigned to the UMR, noting that US EPA Region 5 occasionally raises the issue of UMR use designations for drinking water.
Gregg Good noted that
Marvin Hora indicated that
drinking water use consideration was not a priority from
Baumann stated that his understanding from the discussion so far was that work on the drinking water use is not a priority at this time with the resources that are available. Good concurred, indicating that, if more resources were available, it might be possible to spend more time on the drinking water use.
Rich Batiuk observed that the Chesapeake Bay Program did not focus on the drinking water use, and rather also concentrated its work on aquatic life use designations. Mohsen Dkhili suggested that work to examine aquatic life use designations may ultimately be of aid in later consideration of drinking water use designations.
In sum, the consensus of the Task Force was that focused work on drinking water use designations was not a priority at this time, though it could be revisited at later time, particularly if further resources become available.
Contact Recreation Use
Baumann initiated discussion regarding the contact recreation use by observing that all states have a contact recreation use assigned to the UMR.
Dkhili then provided a detailed update
1) Revise the assessment reaches for the UMR
2) Assign whole body contact recreation use
for the entire UMR in
§ After the public comment period, which lasts through July 21, the rules would be sent to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office for finalization (assuming no further changes are made). Then the rules would be subject to concurrence by US EPA Region 7.
Olson asked if it was clear
whether Region 7 would accept
Franz asked about
Baumann observed that, in
regard to contact recreation, there is a relatively high amount of consistency
between states, in that a contact recreation use is assigned throughout the
river, with the exception of a short segment in the
Baumann asked Franz whether Region 5 was taking a position on contact recreation use designations for the UMR. Franz replied that he did not know whether Region 5 would take a position, but that Region 5 and 7 would need to work together on the issue. Franz and Hokanson both noted that issues such as this highlighted the importance of Region 7’s participation in the Task Force.
Dkhili was asked to explain
the difference between level “A” and “B” whole body contact use assignments in
Good asked whether there
was interstate coordination work to be done regarding criteria for contact
recreation, both in terms of term of the analyte and the acceptable level. Olson asked whether
Baumann summarized the discussion of the contact recreation use, noting:
§ There was a relatively high level of consistency between states in assigning contact recreation use.
§ There may be some consistency issues regarding criteria that should be addressed.
Good asked Batiuk about the
drivers that had brought the states and EPA together on the
Designated Uses for the UMR: Aquatic Life Use Considerations
Designated Use Project Status
Baumann next provided a presentation summarizing the Task Force’s investigation of UMR aquatic life use assignments to date. He characterized this as an initial effort to capture the state of the Task Force’s work that would be refined through the day’s discussion and then presented to the Water Quality Executive Committee the following day.
Baumann made the following observations in his presentation to the Task Force:
§ There is an abundance of mapped information regarding the UMR.
§ The mapped information available clearly illustrates differences in the character of the river and associated habitats, such as in the impounded vs. unimpounded areas.
§ One challenge is whether to “lump” or “split” in defining habitat/aquatic areas for the river. For example, lake-like areas on the river could all be considered as one category or spilt into as many as five sub-categories.
§ In general, use of Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) strata would suggest working from the following aquatic area classifications for the river:
o Main channel (9’ or greater depth, including navigation channel)
o Secondary channel (+/- 9’ depth)
o Backwater, contiguous (less than 6’ depth, low velocity)
o Backwater, isolated (less than 6’ depth, low velocity)
also noted that the “
§ Next steps in moving forward may include:
o Refining the role of habitat information in a designated use context.
o Reviewing and assigning appropriate water quality standards/criteria (e.g. turbidity).
o Identifying assessment methods (e.g. fish IBI).
Olson asked whether the
Task Force was seeking to resolve the “lumper vs. splitter” question before
bringing information to the Executive Committee. Baumann acknowledged that there may be a
diversity of opinion at the time of the presentation to the Executive
Committee, but asked the Task Force members to consider where they saw the
relevant differences. Olson replied that
he did not see the
Batiuk suggested that the Task Force consider the following in its deliberations, in order to develop an internal logic that is comprehensible to a variety of audiences, including the public:
1) Draw a map and consider the intended uses for a habitat area, focusing more on the uses/biological community present than habitat per se.
2) Factor in natural processes affecting the area.
3) Identify representative resources/key species.
4) Identify the unique needs for the unique areas and then identify unique criteria that fit the area, including seasonal considerations.
5) Consider whether criteria and designations allow for an assessment to actually be done – is the approach practical?
6) Work with fisheries/resource managers in developing distinctions.
He emphasized the need to focus on the biological community to be protected and its requirements to thrive, adding that a designated habitat is not the same as a designated use, and that the approach taken has to “public friendly.”
Good asked the group whether they were envisioning one designated use that is assessed in different ways depending on the habitat or whether there would be multiple types of aquatic life use designation. Baumann replied that this had not yet been determined and that the same outcome (i.e. specific protection requirements for specific areas) could be potentially be achieved through multiple methods, including changes to assessment methodology and/or changes to water quality standards.
Batiuk noted that, for the
Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) Sampling Strata
John Sullivan next provided a presentation regarding LTRMP sampling strata, as this approach appeared to be the most likely framework for the Task Force to use in further consideration of aquatic life use categorization on the UMR. Sullivan’s presentation also included some examples of how LTRMP data might inform choices about making distinctions between habitat categories in use designations.
Sullivan’s presentation included the following observations:
§ While the sampling strata may aid in thinking about more habitat-based approaches to implementing the CWA on the UMR, habitat and strata are not equivalent, in the sense that strata is something that is sampled while habitat is biologically defined and is something that resource managers and regulators seek to protect.
§ LTRMP sampling strata can be defined as follows:
o Main Channel (MC) – The channel which contains the navigation channel (not necessarily the state border). Contains most of the river discharge. The navigation channel is marked with buoys and represents a portion of the main channel.
o Side Channels (SC) – Includes secondary and tertiary channels in the river’s floodplain.
o Backwater Contiguous (BC) – Off channel areas generally connected with surface flow to the main channel and side channels.
o Backwater Isolated (BWI) – Areas having no apparent surface water connection to the river at “normal” river stages.
o Impounded (IMP) – Large, mostly open areas located in the lower portion of the navigation pools.
§ Strata are defined at “normal” flows, but areas of the river can change both temporarily due to changes in flow and more permanently over time as the physical structure of the river evolves.
§ Examples from LTRMP data give a sense of how criteria might be developed to protect habitats/resident communities. Some examples from LTRMP data in study pools include:
o Isolated backwaters experience the greatest variability in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels, and frequently have DO concentrations lower than other areas of the river (and may often be at levels lower than 5 mg/l).
o pH values are also the most variable for isolated backwaters.
frequency is greater in backwater and impounded areas than in main or side
channel areas. SAV is not present in the
o Invertebrate (mayfly) populations may be somewhat greater in contiguous backwater, impounded and tributary delta lake strata than in main channel or side channel strata.
o Main channel and side channel strata tend towards coarser substrate, while contiguous backwater and impounded areas tend toward finer substrate.
Discussion of Next Steps/Reporting to the Water Quality Executive Committee
Batiuk emphasized the importance of considering the needs of the biota, rather than existing water quality standards, in developing an approach.
Sullivan commented that USACE is engaged in objective-setting as part of its ecosystem restoration programs (EMP and NESP), and that biological indicators are being considered as part of this process, though it is not yet clear what those indicators will be. He reported that the objective-setting effort has begun with portion of the River that USACE refers to as “Reach 3” (which includes UMR Pools 5-9, and potentially a portion of Pool 4).
Baumann asked the group how
it would like to proceed in terms of working concepts, next steps, and
deliverables. Olson indicated that it is
important to make some distinctions and “split up” the River somehow. Dkhili observed that not all of the strata
may be present in all areas of the River.
Baumann suggested it may be worth considering the
Good indicated a preference
to first concentrate on aquatic life use attainment in the main channel (and
Sullivan noted that biological criteria for fish would likely change at the breakpoint between the impounded and unimpounded areas of the river (i.e., at Lock & Dam 26). Hora and Sullivan emphasized that it will be critical – and challenging – to come to an interstate agreement on how to sample for fish and what formula(s) to use in assessing the fish data.
Sullivan suggested that it might be
possible to collapse the LTRMP strata down into three areas (plus
1) Flowing channels (main channel and side channels)
2) Impounded and contiguous backwater areas
3) Isolated backwaters
Baumann summarized the discussion to this point as indicating:
§ LTRMP strata are the point from which further discussions on aquatic areas will proceed, although it has not yet been determined whether six strata would be used or whether these might be collapsed down further as suggested by Sullivan.
§ In the context of the above “working concept” of aquatic area definition, there is a strong desire to begin focusing efforts on the main channel and most specifically to pursue development of a main channel (fish) IBI for the UMR.
Olson concurred with Baumann’s summary, but noted that the Task Force should be open to revisiting aquatic area definitions depending on what further examination of data may indicate. Baumann agreed.
Baumann next asked the Task Force members to consider any deliverables they might want to produce associated with the designated uses project. He suggested that perhaps a written report was needed which would help establish the working concepts the Task Force is considering regarding categorizations while it commences work on IBI development for the main channel.
Hora and Good asked what timeline Baumann had in mind for developing documentation. Batiuk suggested developing a short (4-page) summary with graphic elements that could be distributed broadly. Baumann suggested that perhaps such a document could be produced relatively soon and then a more extensive report could be assembled over the course of the next year.
UMR IBI Development
Good suggested that it may be necessary to form a subgroup to focus in on IBI work that would include state representatives and IBI experts. Baumann commented that the Task Force sees a need for UMR IBI development, with the question being how to best move forward on this. He asked whether it would be possible to bring in the individuals working on IBIs, for the UMR and otherwise, for a focused discussion, with the possibility of doing this at the September 2008 Water Quality Task Force meeting.
Franz commented that EPA is also seeking to bring together individuals to discuss UMR IBI development, and that EPA has been trying to engage USACE on this effort. He added that it might be possible to convene experts who may already be attending EPA Region 5’s annual Surface Water Monitoring and Standards (SWiMS) meeting in Chicago in early 2009. Good added that there is a regional biocriteria workgroup that meets annually and could potentially be brought into the discussion. Franz noted that LTRMP has a lot of data that should be mined in any IBI development effort.
Baumann summarized the discussion regarding UMR IBI development as follows:
§ The Task Force recognizes the need for UMR IBI development.
§ A variety of individuals and agencies have done relevant work and there is a need to bring these ideas together in a discussion/workshop setting.
§ If a discussion is held in conjunction with a WQTF meeting, we would likely need to extend the meeting time frame.
§ The discussion could also be attached to another existing venue, such as the 2009 SWiMS meeting.
§ Under any approach, approximately one full day would be needed for the UMR IBI discussion.
Hokanson cautioned that holding the discussion as part of SWiMS may not facilitate involvement of USACE and others involved in ecosystem restoration on the UMR. Franz replied that this was a consideration, but that resources may not be available to hold a meeting outside of the SWiMS setting. Batiuk indicated that he could recommend an outside facilitator for IBI discussions and that funds are available in US EPA headquarters to support these kinds of discussions.
Other Topics Potentially Related to the Designated Use Project
Hokanson briefly reviewed other topics mentioned on the agenda that may have bearing on the designated use project as follows:
§ EMAP Data: State-by-state EMAP water quality data has been provided by Dave Bolgrien (EPA-EMAP) and distributed to the Task Force. This data may be useful in further developing a categorization scheme for the River. However, more time is needed for states to review the data and it may be more appropriate to hold a dedicated conference call regarding the EMAP data.
§ Ecosystem Restoration Objective-Setting Efforts: As mentioned by Sullivan earlier in the meeting, USACE is working on objective setting for “Reach 3” of the UMR, and recently held a workshop on this topic. This effort is likely to be relevant for the designated use project and may be a connection area to be discussed further at the Clean Water Act-Ecosystem Restoration workshop that follows the WQTF/WQEC meetings.
Interstate 305(b) Assessment and 303(d) Listing Consultation
Baumann indicated that
Marvin Hora indicated that
EPA should be approving
Hora asked how the other
states were treating invasive species, in terms of them being a cause of
impairment. Olson replied that Region 7
did not appear to be taking action right now, though
Hora also asked whether
other Task Force members had to address issues regarding lead shot being
deposited in waterbodies near gun clubs. Tim Henry indicated that there had
been a cleanup in
Olson reported that
Olson next provided a demonstration of Iowa DNR’s online assessment database, ADBNet, which is available at http://programs.iowadnr.gov/adbnet/index.aspx. He noted the following regarding ADBNet:
§ The database is searchable by waterbody name.
§ It is organized to be accessible to users such as watershed coordinators and permit writers.
§ It allows for remote entry of information by Iowa DNR staff.
§ Raw data is not provided. Rather, narrative descriptions of assessments are made available.
Olson also commented that
EPA’s ATTAINS database has not been displaying
Olson next briefly reported on the water quality information exchange effort being led by Gail George of Iowa DNR. In addition to providing a handout with information from George, Olson noted that the project to date had focused on moving data from Iowa DNR to EPA, with the potential benefit of improving data sharing between ADBNet and ATTAINS. He added that future work under this grant may include state-to-state data sharing. Baumann commented that Wisconsin DNR is working with Iowa DNR on this effort.
Good discussed a recent
public hearing process where water quality data was introduced following the
timeline for submittal. He asked if
other states had encountered similar situations and how they had responded. Hora indicated that
Hokanson noted that
Dkhili indicated that
Hokanson thanked Dkhili for
his earlier update regarding
US EPA Region 5
Batiuk commented on the
PFC Sampling Update
Hokanson indicated that he
had been in communication with Andy Lindstrom and Shoji Nakayama of US EPA
regarding the status of PFC sampling results.
He reported that Lindstrom and Nakayama’s preference at this point was
to consult individually with each of the states regarding results so far and
perhaps schedule some targeted followup sampling for the summer time
frame. Hokanson confirmed contact points
in the states/regions for this discussion and then added that Lindstrom and
Nakayama are also looking for the participants’ input on how authorship should
be done for any papers and presentations associated with the project. Hora commented that one of
Other Agency Reports and Updates
Good reported that Illinois
EPA had discontinued ambient water monitoring in October 2007 due to staffing/budget
issues, but had since been able to resurrect monitoring at 86 stations,
including all the stations on the UMR and the
Good next discussed a set of new dissolved oxygen (DO) criteria that has been approved by the Illinois Pollution Control Board and is awaiting approval by US EPA. In addition to distributing a handout, he noted the following regarding this proposed set of criteria:
§ It provides for both seasonal variation and differences between water body types (referred to as Level 1 and Level 2).
§ It establishes 1-day and 7-day minimums, as well as 7-day and 30-day mean values.
§ It also includes a narrative component.
Good said that this approach moves away from a broadly applied 5.0 mg/l criterion to a set of criteria more appropriately reflecting seasonal and temporal considerations, as well as various water body characteristics. Hokanson added that Matt Short of Illinois EPA, in a presentation to the UMRCC-Water Quality Tech Section regarding these proposed criteria, had described the UMR as including both “Level 1” and “Level 2” segments.
Olson provided a brief update regarding
two site-specific TMDLs being developed for the UMR in
EPA Region 7 has hired a contractor to work on a TMDL to address a localized
impairment caused by bacterial slime at
EPA Region 7 had drafted a TMDL to address the arsenic impairment of the UMR
Hora noted that MPCA has
initiated an endocrine disruptor monitoring project in collaboration with
Hora also highlighted that
siloxanes (a chemical group used in a wide variety of consumer and other
products, which features silicon-oxygen chains with hydrogen or hydrocarbon
side chains) are an emerging contaminant of potential interest to
Hora reported that
Dkhili asked whether it was
Baumann reported that
Baumann also mentioned
US EPA Region 5
Franz reported that Dale Robertson (USGS) continues to work on the SPARROW model and is moving forward with ranking of watersheds by 8-digit HUC code (over 800 watersheds total). He indicated that the output of this effort would be peer reviewed and should be available in September 2008. Baumann asked if Robertson would be attempting to address concerns about phosphorus analysis that were raised during discussion of previous model output. These concerns pertained to the contribution of pastureland/animal waste to phosphorous loading. Franz replied that he would need to check with Robertson on this issue.
Franz also provided an
update on the UMR early warning monitoring stations being installed by US EPA
in cooperation with states and local utilities/industry. He indicated that stations are planned for
UMRCC-Water Quality Tech Section
Hokanson briefly commented
on the UMRCC-Water Quality Tech Section meeting held
Recognition of Holly Stoerker’s Service
Baumann motioned that the Task Force formally recognize Holly Stoerker’s many years of service to the UMRBA and to the Water Quality Task Force in light of her upcoming retirement. Hora offered a motion to this effect, and Dkhili seconded. The motion was unanimously adopted by the Task Force.
The Water Quality Task
Force meeting adjourned at