Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Water Quality Task Force Meeting

July 31 – August 1, 2012

Davenport, Iowa

 

Draft Meeting Summary

 

 

Participants

Gregg Good

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Matt Short

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

John Olson

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Mike Feist

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Katrina Kessler (1)

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Mark Tomasek

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Mohsen Dkhili

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

John Ford

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Rick Reichardt (1)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

John Sullivan

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Ed Hammer

US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Linda Holst

US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

John DeLashmit (1)

US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7

Chris Yoder

Midwest Biodiversity Institute

Albert Ettinger

Environmental Law & Policy Center/Mississippi River Collaborative

Susan Heathcote

Iowa Environmental Council/Mississippi River Collaborative

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

(1) Joined the meeting by phone.

 

Call to Order and Introductions

The UMRBA Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) meeting was called to order at 12:10 p.m. by Chair John Olson.  Introductions of all participants followed.  

 

Approval of Previous Meeting Summary

Olson asked if there were any corrections or additions to the summary of the January 31, 2012 WQTF meeting.  None were offered and the summary was approved as final by the WQTF.   

 

Interstate 305(b) Assessment and 303(d) Impairment Listing Consultation

Iowa

Olson said he anticipated Iowa’s 2012 impairment listings to be as portrayed in the chart included with the WQTF meeting packet.

 

Illinois

Gregg Good said Illinois has completed a draft 2012 impairment list, which was recently made available for public comment.  He said Illinois EPA is currently developing responses to these public comments.  Good said Illinois EPA is also working to respond to comments from US EPA Region 5 on Illinois’ 2010 impairment list, which has only been partially approved by US EPA.  Additionally, he noted that Illinois EPA has begun work on its 2014 assessment and listing, with a completion target of April 1, 2014.   

 

In regard to UMR listings specifically, Matt Short said the 2012 listing drops the aquatic life use impairment previously identified for UMR reach 13.  He said data indicated that parameters previously associated the impairment (iron, pH, and TSS) now meet water quality standards.  He also highlighted changes in aquatic recreation-related impairments in reaches 8, 9, and 10, noting that these types of impairments frequently change with the availability of new data and changes in flow condition.  Olson commented that Iowa DNR is now requiring two cycles worth of data to list or de-list, in order to help minimize this type of flux in their impairment list.

 

Wisconsin

John Sullivan reported that US EPA has approved Wisconsin’s 2010 impairment list.  He said impairments associated with mercury in fish tissue should be removed from the depiction of the 2012 listing included in the WQTF packet.  Albert Ettinger noted that Wisconsin has a total phosphorus-related listing in UMR assessment reaches 1 through 4, but not in reach 5, and he asked Sullivan why this is the case.  Sullivan responded that this is likely a result of a lack of phosphorus data in reach 5. 

 

Minnesota

Mark Tomasek said that Minnesota’s 2010 impairment list has been approved by US EPA.  He said MPCA is currently in the process of responding to comments on its draft 2012 list.

 

Missouri

Missouri representatives were not yet present at the time of the consultation, so no report from Missouri was provided. 

 

US EPA

No comments on the states’ assessment and impairment listings were offered by US EPA Region 5 staff.   John DeLashmit said US EPA Region 7 had recently (July 12) taken action on Missouri’s 2012 listing to restore ten waterbodies to the list.  He said EPA is accepting public comments for 60 days on this action.   

 

Emerging Issues for Assessment and Listing

Olson said one upcoming consideration is that, due to drought conditions, low flows may end up contributing to water quality criteria violations.  Short concurred, giving an example of a provisional variance being granted to a specific facility in regard to temperature criteria.  He added that Illinois EPA had received other, similar requests for provisional variances.  Sullivan asked what is included in the variance.  Short explained that, under the variance, the discharger does not need to meet temperature requirements, but must report any impacts to aquatic life.  Holst added that US EPA Region 5 has been in conversation with Illinois EPA in regard to this issue.  Ettinger asked whether there is any existing guidance that addresses this situation.  Holst replied that there is general guidance on variances in the water quality standards handbook, but that this type of provisional/emergency variance is not directly addressed. 

 

Olson asked whether the other states are observing temperature-related fish kills. All of the states replied that they are seeing these kills.  Ettinger asked whether the states are determining and tracking the causes of the fish kills.  All replied the current kills are associated with high temperatures.  Olson gave an example of a recent fish kill on the Lower Des Moines River that was associated with elevated water temperature.  Sullivan said most of the recent fish kills in Wisconsin appear to be related to temperature, and that it is difficult to separate out dissolved oxygen levels as a contributor distinct from temperature in these situations.  

 

Good asked whether other states have provisions in their rules that deal with low flow by suspending the applicability of certain water quality criteria under specific low flow conditions.   Sullivan and Olson replied that Wisconsin and Iowa have this type of provision.   Good said the issue of low flow is likely going to be of continued importance if climate change leads to more frequent reductions in flow.  Ettinger asked how often the US Geological Survey recalculates streamflow values such as the 7-day, 10 year low flow (Q7-10).  Olson said his understanding is that these values are recalculated approximately every 10 years.

 

State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Update

Iowa

Olson said Iowa’s statewide strategy combines nonpoint and point source elements.  He explained that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) is leading the nonpoint source component of the strategy, while the Iowa DNR is leading the point source component, and that documents produced by the two agencies are currently being merged into a single strategy document. Olson noted that the point source portion of the strategy is focused on approximately 100 major municipal dischargers and 30 industrial facilities, with point source effluent targets of 10 mg/l for total nitrogen and 1 mg/l for total phosphorus.  Ettinger asked what types of industrial facilities fall within the group affected by the strategy.  Olson said he was not familiar with the specific facilities impacted.  Ettinger asked how long it will be until facilities must meet the target values.  Olson replied that the limits will likely be tied to permit renewals and therefore will be phased in over time.

 

Illinois

Good said that the strategy development process in Illinois had begun 18-20 months ago, but there has not been much activity recently.  He said Marcia Willhite (Illinois EPA Bureau of Water Chief) has been making efforts to re-invigorate the process, with the hope of having a strategy produced in approximately one year.

 

Wisconsin

John Sullivan said a stakeholder meeting will be held on September 26, 2012 in regard to statewide nutrient strategy development.  He added that US EPA Region 5 had recently approved Wisconsin’s phosphorus program as detailed under its recent phosphorus rule (NR 217). 

 

Minnesota

Tomasek said Minnesota is working on its strategy under a grant from US EPA, and that the strategy will include consideration of downstream impacts and implementation gaps.  He added that MPCA has statewide lake standards for nutrients in place and has recently proposed riverine nutrient standards.  Tomasek also noted that MPCA is also developing a nitrate toxicity standard, based on the effects on aquatic life. 

 

Tomasek said MPCA is creating a statewide nitrate study, similar to a previously-completed statewide phosphorus study.  He said this study will include information on statewide ambient concentrations, nitrate loading and yields, and historic levels, as well as some recommendations to address nitrate. 

 

Missouri

Missouri’s representatives had not yet arrived during this report-out.  However, the following report was submitted by Missouri DNR staff (Steve Walker via Mohsen Dkhili) on August 9th:

 

The Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy Committee has been meeting approximately every two months since October 2011 and is composed of more than 90 participants from 38 different agencies, organizations, and groups in Missouri.  The committee is working on strategies to reduce nutrient loading to Missouri waters.  The target date for completion of the Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy is September 30, 2013. 

 

Also, Missouri DNR applied for and received an EPA Section 104(b)(3) grant to hire contractors to assist with this effort and we are planning to hire a couple of college graduates to assist us in compiling information on BMPs and costs and drafting portions of the Strategy.  We have also requested and received EPA contractor assistance to assist us in prioritizing watersheds in Missouri that may have the greatest potential for nutrient loads.

 

Survey of States’ NPDES Monitoring Requirements

Hokanson gave an overview of the recent information summary UMR States’ Requirements for Nutrient Monitoring Under NPDES Permits.   He noted that the information was collected in follow up to the recommendation from the 2011 UMR Nutrients Report encouraging the states to “pursue consistent NPDES discharge monitoring requirements for both nitrogen and phosphorus.”  Hokanson explained that he had contacted NPDES staff in all five UMR states by both email and phone in order to gather information, and had augmented these personal communications with readily available, web-based information about the state’s programs.  He offered the following summary observations regarding the investigation of states’ NPDES permit monitoring requirements for nutrients:

 

§  The topic is relatively complex, as there are numerous nutrient parameters, facility types, and monitoring frequencies to be considered in summarizing the states’ approaches.

§  However, there are some common considerations among the states that are used to determine the parameters monitored, the facilities affected, and the frequency of monitoring.  These include facility size (determined via design flow or population equivalent) and the condition of receiving water (as indicated by ambient measurement, the presence of a TMDL, and/or effluent limit).

§  New requirements for nutrient monitoring are generally phased in by the states, often at the time of permit renewal or facility expansion.

§  In regard to specific parameters:

o   Ammonia nitrogen requirements have typically been in place for many years in each state, and often have the broadest applicability across facility types.  These requirements are focused on aquatic organism toxicity, and are therefore less relevant for eutrophication issues. 

o   Total phosphorus monitoring is the next most commonly applied nutrient monitoring requirement and is becoming more broadly adopted among the states.

o   Monitoring for other nitrogen parameters is more variable among the states, though all states are moving toward bringing at least one more parameter into their monitoring requirements.

§  Overall, there is diversity among the states, but all are moving toward increased NDPES monitoring requirements for nutrients. 

 

Hokanson suggested that, in light of information summary and recommendation in the 2011 UMR Nutrients Report, the WQTF may want to consider what follow up steps it would like to pursue at this time.  

 

Good asked whether states can require influent monitoring under NPDES permits.  Katrina Kessler replied this indeed can be done, adding that MPCA has required influent monitoring for phosphorus.  Rick Reichardt concurred, saying that Wisconsin DNR requires influent monitoring for plants performing phosphorus removal.  He added that influent monitoring is also required in cases where a technology-based variance is requested.  

 

Kessler noted that, under Minnesota’s proposed riverine nutrient criteria, both nutrient levels and response variables (e.g. chlorophyll-a) are considered.  She said this situation creates the need for more chlorophyll-a monitoring, something which has been challenging to address.  Reichardt said Wisconsin DNR has been most focused on phosphorus monitoring, particularly in light of the state’s recently adopted phosphorus rule.  

 

Good asked whether the states treat UMR dischargers any differently than other dischargers state-wide.   Reichardt said there had been some conversation on this topic in Wisconsin, but that no specific decisions had been made.  Kessler said that, due to the Lake Pepin TMDL, dischargers in the Mississippi River Basin in Minnesota are already subject to effluent limits for nutrients and associated monitoring requirements. 

 

Sullivan asked whether the WQTF actually wanted to and/or was in a position to offer comment regarding nutrient monitoring under NPDES permits.  He also asked whether enough is currently known about nutrient loading in the UMR basin to inform monitoring requirements.  Ettinger suggested that it may be more important to focus on monitoring related to response/outcomes (e.g., chlorophyll-a) as opposed to increasing monitoring for nitrogen and phosphorus.  Sullivan observed that there is generally less information available regarding nitrogen, as compared to phosphorus. 

 

Tomasek asked whether the primary purpose of NPDES nutrient monitoring is to help determine loading.  Olson replied that his understanding is that the increased focus on nutrient monitoring is largely a response to the lack of exiting data.  Ettinger said the increased focused on nutrient data collection is appropriate, particularly in light of TMDL development and application.  He added that he would also like to see continuous dissolved oxygen measurements added into monitoring.

 

Reichardt said cost can be an important consideration related to monitoring, noting that phosphorus analysis is relatively inexpensive as compared to nitrogen series analysis, with the nitrogen series running approximately $90 per sample. 

 

Kessler said that MPCA has a pretty good idea at this point what discharges are producing in terms of nutrient levels and as such there may be limited value in more monitoring of nitrogen and phosphorus parameters.   However, she added that Minnesota could potentially learn from other states as they move forward with nitrate monitoring.  Olson said he would not feel comfortable making a recommendation that simply asked for more monitoring to be done at this time.  

 

Holst said Region 5 has received questions regarding what is a typical discharge concentration for different facility types.  She said it would be helpful to know what the levels at which certain facilities are discharging throughout the basin.  Ettinger said the Illinois Water Works Association has recently produced a treatment plant efficiency study and that another helpful study has also been completed in Indiana.

 

Tomasek said he felt it may be more beneficial to look at the data that is currently produced and determine if it helps provide information in regard to nutrient loading.  He said Minnesota has examined phosphorus loading statewide and a potential extension is to look at nutrient loading basinwide.  Sullivan said helpful data in this regard already exists for Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Holst said Marcia Willhite had requested data from US EPA’s Office of Science and Technology regarding NAWQWQ information related to treatment plants, and that a summary of this information may be coming soon.

 

Sullivan and Short both asked what the WQTF would like to share with the WQEC as an outcome of this discussion.  Chris Yoder said there is a monitoring strategy consideration here, in that the data produced by NPDES-required monitoring on the UMR could potentially contribute to an overall UMR data set under the monitoring strategy.  Olson said this seems like one possible link that could be explored. Tomasek said another possible use of this data is in calculating nutrient loading.  Kessler said the calculation of loading is something that is currently being pursued within Minnesota as part of Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) creation for a potential nitrate rule.

 

Olson asked about requirements for downstream/receiving water monitoring.  Kessler said MPCA has required receiving water monitoring when it has determined that existing ambient monitoring may not be sufficient to measure impacts on the waterbody.  Ettinger asked what frequency of monitoring is required for receiving water monitoring.  Kessler said monitoring is typically focused on the growing season, typically resulting in 6-8 samples per year.  Sullivan said Wisconsin’s receiving water monitoring frequency is monthly over the period of May through September, noting that this is guidance language, not necessarily a requirement.  Reichardt emphasized that this is not required monitoring, as Wisconsin DNR does not have the authority to require in-stream monitoring, with the exception of monitoring under the adaptive management piece of the recently-approved phosphorus rule package.  Kessler said that MPCA does not necessarily have explicit authority to require receiving water monitoring, but rather that its general authority allows it to require monitoring such as this.

 

Good said that the one piece where the WQTF may be able to make a recommendation is in regard to how NPDES monitoring may support the UMR monitoring strategy. 

 

Ettinger asked whether there is any ongoing effort to compile data across states, and if data could potentially be managed across states.  Holst said this can be challenging, as state data is dispersed, but that US EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) had possibly done some work in this area.  She said she would check with Brian Thompson at Region 5 and determine what information may currently be available. 

 

Basin Monitoring Strike Force

Short provided an update in regard to the Monitoring Strike Force which had been created under the auspices of the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force.  He said participants from the UMR states in this effort include himself and Gregg Good (Illinois), Dean Lemke (Iowa), Glenn Skuta (Minnesota), John Ford (Missouri), and Michael Sorge (Wisconsin).  He said the Strike Force’s leads are Mike Woodside of USGS and Kate Pinkerton of US EPA.  He noted that the Strike Force will be making a report to the Hypoxia Task Force during its meeting in September 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Short explained that the Strike Force’s efforts have been focused on identifying continuous Mississippi River data sets.  However, the selection of these sets has been limited to what is available in STORET and NWIS.  Short said this means that USACE-EMP Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data have been excluded from consideration by the Strike Force.  

 

Short said one of the objectives of the Strike Force’s work is to encourage the continuation of sites with long-term data records by identifying critical state and federal monitoring locations.  He said the Strike Force is also considering a monitoring strategy for the basin.  As such, it is worthwhile to look at the potential connection or overlap with the UMR CWA monitoring strategy work currently being pursued by the WQTF. 

 

Sullivan asked when the Strike Force will next be meeting.  Short replied that up until August, the Strike Force had held calls every two weeks, but there is not currently a call scheduled.  He also said he was not sure of the Task Force’s duration beyond its presentation to the Hypoxia Task Force in September.

 

Other Agency Updates and Identification of Emerging Issues

Ettinger asked whether the WQTF has taken any action in regard to emerging contaminants on the UMR.  Yoder said he had a similar question and wondered whether there is any current effort to assemble information regarding emerging contaminants for the UMR.  Tomasek said his understanding is that many of the reports and studies on emerging contaminants are rather preliminary.  Hokanson noted that the WQTF is well positioned to address emerging contaminants, as evidenced by its past participation in a study of perfluorochemicals on the UMR.

 

Sullivan noted that the frac sand mining industry has been expanding rapidly in Wisconsin.  Susan Heathcote said this is also the case in Iowa and along the UMR generally.  She added that dust concerns are one of the issues associated with this industry.  Tomasek said there has been an expansion of frac sand mining activity in Minnesota.  Sullivan commented that in addition to mining itself, there has also been interest expressed to USACE regarding the use of UMR dredge spoils as a source of frac sand.

 

Dkhili said that drought continues to be a dominant concern in Missouri, with a recent $7 million appropriation having been made to assist the agricultural sector in obtaining water for irrigation and livestock purposes.  He noted that over 40 Missouri DNR staff persons have been assigned to work directly on this effort.

 

Implementing Recommendations of Recent Projects

Hokanson reviewed the recommendations of the WQTF’s major recent projects, including the aquatic life designated uses (ALDU) project, the UMR nutrient report, the UMR bioassessment guidance document, and the arsenic/human health issue paper.  He said the Water Quality Executive Committee (WQEC) is interested in developing a mechanism to prioritize and track progress in implementing the recommendations of these projects.  Hokanson also noted that US EPA Office of Water senior staff had been very interested in the implementation of these recommendations – particularly those from the nutrient report – when they had met with the WQEC in March 2012.   He asked the WQTF members if they had feedback on prioritization and/or how to move forward with project recommendations.

 

Olson said implementing the recommendations of the ALDU project is a top priority.  Short agreed, but added that without shared criteria in place, moving forward in implementation is challenging.  Dkhili said implementing ALDU recommendations might fit in with tiered aquatic life use approaches the states are considering.   He added that many of the recommendations are likely to be addressed, at least in part, by the monitoring strategy project.   Short agreed that several of the recommendations will be addressed to some level in the monitoring strategy.

 

Olson noted that, among the nutrient-related recommendations, the formalization and implementation of a metaphyton protocol might be a specific action to pursue.  Sullivan agreed, but added that he viewed this more in the category of developing off-channel assessment tools than specifically as a nutrient-related step.  Olson said he found the metaphyton protocol appealing as it would offer the states an opportunity to work together in developing a new tool.   Sullivan agreed, saying that there is a need to develop this and other tools applicable to off-channel areas. 

 

Good said it seemed that development of a UMR assessment methodology is a logical next step to following monitoring strategy development.  Sullivan said his understanding is that he WQTF has a goal to develop a shared 305(b) assessment, while the individual states still develop their own 303(d) impairment listings.   He asked whether the other states share this viewpoint.  There was general concurrence among the other states that this is the direction the WQTF is seeking to take.   Short said he saw a uniform assessment as a leading goal of the WQTF’s work.  Sullivan asked whether the shared assessment would include recommendations regarding impairment listing.  John Ford observed that it is the 303(d) listings that draw the most attention from the public. 

 

Olson said he could envision the states agreeing on the biological portion of a shared UMR assessment, since there are not already existing approaches to biological assessment that have been employed by the states.  Sullivan said that any assessment guidance would likely need to be specific to the UMR (i.e., not applicable to other waterbodies within each state).  Good said that all the preceding discussion made him even more convinced that assessment methodology development is the most likely next areas of endeavor for the WQTF. 

 

Mike Feist said he would advocate for development and use of a UMR data management system as a leading priority, particularly if the current monitoring strategy work actually leads to the collection of more UMR data for CWA purposes.

 

Macroinvertebrate Monitoring and Appendices

Hokanson said that, while the 2011 Bioassessment Guidance Document had included a recommendation to use US EPA EMAP-GRE-developed macroinvertebrate sampling methods and the associated index (GRMIN), the WQTF had ongoing concerns about both the method and the index.  As result, the WQTF sought to explore the issue in greater detail, including via a June 6, 2012 conference call on the topic.  Hokanson said that one of the ideas discussed at this conference call was a comparison study to investigate how kick sample (e.g., EMAP-GRE) methods compare with artificial substrate (e.g., Hester-Dendy sampler) methods.  He noted that MPCA has been considering executing such a comparison study on the Minnesota portion of the UMR.  Hokanson shared some preliminary thoughts on such a study provided by Will Bouchard of MPCA as follows:

 

§  Study Goal

o   Determine if Hester-Dendy (H-D) samplers, kick nets, or a combination of the two provide a better measure of biological condition on the UMR.

§  Initial Questions Regarding Study Design

o   How many sampling stations?  How will the locations be determined?  Can we use EMAP stations?  Do we also sample some large tributaries?

o   Which UMR reaches can be sampled?  Which states will be able to participate?

o   Hester-Dendy sampling methods – number per site, depth, deployment, replicates, etc.?

o   Sample processing – subsampling, taxonomic resolution, lab, etc.?

o   IBIs:  Which ones to use?  Will new IBIs need to be developed?

o   How will the data be analyzed?  How will the best method be selected?

§  Initial Expectations

o   Sample enough sites to capture the disturbance gradient on the UMR

o   Calculate stressor score for each station (EMAP methods)

o   Sample H-Ds and kick nets concurrently at each site

o   Use EMAP methods and ad hoc IBI for kick net samples

o   Develop a H-D sampling methodology that UMR states can agree upon

o   Use Wisconsin large river IBI for H-Ds (hopefully it will work on the UMR)

o   Determine if kick nets, H-Ds, or a combination of the two respond better to stress

 

Sullivan said the situation is challenging for him, as Wisconsin DNR is advocating for the use of Hester-Dendy samplers while US EPA, and the Bioassesment Guidance Document, are advocating for the use of EMAP-GRE methods.  He said he needs more information in order to understand which approach is more powerful in its diagnostic power and more efficient. 

 

Holst ask for a clarification that there are just two leading candidates to consider – EMAP-GRE kick sample and Hester-Dendy artificial substrate.  Short concurred that these are the two choices to consider, adding that Illinois EPA has experience in the use of Hester-Dendy samplers.  He noted that one of the challenges in macroinvertebrate sampling generally is actually gathering enough data to make an assessment.  Short said one of the advantages of Hester-Dendy samplers is that they will work in most circumstances as long as there is flow. 

 

Building on Short’s point, Sullivan said that a UMR monitoring strategy would need to address the issue of flow as essential in conducting artificial substrate monitoring and given guidance on how to proceed in low-flow conditions.  He asked whether Illinois has Hester-Dendy information that can be used within the IBI developed by Brian Weigel of Wisconsin DNR.  Short said he is not sure whether Illinois’ data can be plugged into Weigel’s IBI successfully.  Sullivan suggested that this kind of existing data could potentially be used as part of the proposed comparison study. 

 

Yoder said the issue with EMAP-GRE macroinvertebrate monitoring identified by the Bioassesment Guidance project was with data analysis, not data collection, and that modification of the GRMIN to the “Ad Hoc GRMIN” corrected these analysis issues.  He cautioned that macroinvertebrate work, in general, was simply not as standardized as fish monitoring, so that any approach is bound to have its limitations.  Yoder suggested that if a comparative study is pursued, it be structured so that it is clear what is gained from each additional increment of effort.  He also reminded the WQTF that the EMAP-GRE design was based on limiting the number of site visits to one per sampling round and that artificial substrate methods will require two visits

 

Good asked whether Minnesota and Wisconsin are interested in other states joining into the comparative study.  Sullivan replied that other states are welcome to join the effort.  Hokanson added that Bouchard had also indicated to him Minnesota’s interest in other states joining the study.  Olson said he had spoken with Tom Wilton about the possibility of Iowa participating, and Wilton had indicated both an interest and ability to participate.  Feist said the most productive approach would be to have participation along the length of the UMR, in order to determine applicability within the monitoring strategy.  Sullivan suggested that, in the interim, the monitoring strategy include the collection of macroinvertebrate data using both methods. 

 

Olson said an apparent next step is to confirm states’ participation in the study.  Good asked about potential costs associated with this sampling.  Yoder suggested an estimate of $1,500 per sample site to do a comparison study of this kind, adding that if a minimum of 30 sites were used, this would then be $45,000 for the study. Feist said MPCA is already planning to participate.  Ford said he felt Missouri could execute sampling to contribute to the study.  Sullivan said he felt this work was critical.

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned for the day at 5:30 p.m.  The WQTF reconvened briefly at 8 a.m. on August 1, 2012 to review action items and next steps. 

 

Confirmation of Action Items and Next Steps

Hokanson summarized the preceding day’s discussion, noting action items and next steps, as follows:

303(d) Listing Chart

Action item:

§  Remove mercury (in fish tissue) listing from UMR reaches 1,2,3,5, and 6 in Wisconsin.

 

NPDES Permit Monitoring for Nutrients

Themes emerging from the discussion of nutrient monitoring associated with NPDES permits:

§  It is challenging for WQTF to make recommendations here, as NPDES permits are typically outside the program areas in which the WQTF members work.

§  The WQTF does not seek more nitrogen and phosphorus monitoring just for the sake of consistency.

§  One question to potentially explore is whether the data produced under NPDES monitoring helps in the determination of nutrient loading.  Data would need to be examined to determine this.  The upcoming Minnesota nitrate study and Wisconsin nitrate report are potential resources in this regard.   Further data compilation across states may also be helpful.

§  There is possible value in determining how various discharger types perform in nutrient reduction across the UMR states.

§  NPDES monitoring data is a potentially important piece for consideration in the UMR monitoring strategy project.

 

Report Recommendations/Priorities

Themes emerging from the discussion of recommendations and priorities:

§  It is important to first complete the monitoring strategy and then assess to what degree recommendations have been addressed in the monitoring strategy work.

§  Work on an assessment methodology is an important next step following the monitoring strategy or perhaps even being developed alongside the monitoring strategy.  

§  A UMR data management system is also needed following monitoring strategy completion.

§  There is interest in pursuing further development of off-channel biological assessment tools, and a metaphyton protocol in particular. 

§  The WQTF is interested in completing a comparison study of macroinvertebrate methods and indices.

 

Macroinverbrate Methods and Indices

Next steps identified by Hokanson included:

§  Hokanson will share WQTF feedback/interest with Will Bouchard at MPCA, who has been the primary actor in this effort to date. 

§  Hokanson will work with Minnesota and Wisconsin to determine how WQTF can best assist process, which will likely include organizing a conference call later this year.

§  Tentative goal is study design creation by spring 2013 and monitoring summer/fall 2013.

§  For purposes of the UMR CWA monitoring strategy, the WQTF will assume for now that both kick sampling and artificial substrate methods are included. 

 

The general business meeting of the WQTF ended at 8:30 a.m. on August 1, 2012.  A dedicated discussion on the UMR CWA monitoring strategy project followed for the remainder of the day on August 1.