Iowa DNR

Water Quality Assessments

Impaired Waters List

West Fork Little Sioux River IA 06-LSR-1598

mouth (S12 T84N R45W Monona Co.) to confluence with a small unnamed tributary near Climbing Hill in S16 T87N R45W Woodbury Co.

Assessment Cycle
Result Period
2004 - 2006
Class A1 Class B(WW-2)
Assessment Methodology
Assessment Type
Integrated Report
Category 5p
Legacy ADBCode
IA 06-LSR-0120_1
Overall Use Support
Not supporting
Aquatic Life Use Support
Primary Contact Recreation
Not supporting
Assessment Comments

Assessment is based on results of (1) IDNR/UHL ambient monthly monitoring near Hornick from 2004-06.

Basis for Assessment

[Note 1:  For the 2002 report, the previous waterbody segment for the West Fork Little Sioux River (IA 06-LSR-0120-0), which extended 32 miles from its mouth to confluence with Mud Creek near Moville in Woodbury Co., was split into two subsegments:  (1) mouth to confluence with an unnamed tributary 0.5 miles north of Climbing Hill (Woodbury Co.   - this one) (IA 06-LSR-0120-1) and (2) unnamed tributary 0.5 miles north of Climbing Hill to Mud Creek near Moville, Woodbury Co.   (IA 06-LSR-0120-2).    See previous Section 305(b) from this subsegment for the assessments of the original 32-mile river reach.]

[Note 2:  Prior to the current (2008) Section 305(b) cycle, this stream segment was designated only for Class B(LR) aquatic life uses.   Due to changes in Iowa’s surface water classification that were approved by U.S.  EPA in February 2008 (see, this segment is now presumptively designated for Class A1 (primary contact recreation) uses.   The stream remains designated for aquatic life uses (now termed Class B(WW2) aquatic life uses).   Thus, for the current (2008) assessment, the available water quality monitoring data will be compared to the applicable Class A1 and Class B(WW2) water quality criteria.]

SUMMARY:  The presumptive Class A1 (primary contact recreation) uses are assessed (monitored) as "not supported" due to levels of indicator bacteria that violate state water quality criteria.   The Class B(WW2) aquatic life uses are assessed (monitored) as "fully supported" based on results of IDNR/UHL ambient water quality monitoring from 2004 through 2006.   The extensive channel modifications on this river segment, however, remain a concern regarding the full support of aquatic life uses.   This assessment is based on (1) results of IDNR/UHL monthly ambient monitoring conducted during the 2004-2006 assessment period on West Fork Little Sioux River at the Highway 141 bridge approximately 1 mile east of Hornick in (STORET station 10970002).  

EXPLANATION:  The presumptive Class A1 uses are assessed (monitored) as "not supported" based on results of ambient monitoring for indicator bacteria (E.  coli).   Due to recent changes in Iowa’s Water Quality Standards, Iowa’s assessment methodology for indicator bacteria has changed.   Prior to 2003, the Iowa WQ Standards contained a high-flow exemption for the Class A criterion for indicator bacteria (fecal coliforms) designed to protect primary contact recreation uses:  the water quality criterion for fecal coliform bacteria (200 orgs/100 ml) did not apply "when the waters [were] materially affected by surface runoff."  Due to a change in the Standards in July 2003, E.  coli is now the indicator bacterium, and the high flow exemption was eliminated and replaced with language stating that the Class A criteria for E.  coli apply when Class A1, A2, or A3 uses “can reasonably be expected to occur.”  Because the IDNR Technical Advisory Committee on WQ Standards could not agree on what flow conditions would define periods when uses would not be reasonably expected to occur, all monitoring data generated for E.  coli during the assessment period, regardless of flow conditions during sample collection, will be considered for determining support of Class A uses for purposes of Section 305(b) assessments and Section 303(d) listings.  

The geometric mean level of indicator bacteria (E.  coli) in the 23 samples collected at the IDNR/UHL ambient monitoring station near Hornick during summer recreational seasons of 2004-2006 (520 orgs/100ml) far exceeds the Iowa Class A1 water quality criterion of 126 orgs/100ml.   Sixteen of the 23 samples (70%) exceed Iowa’s single-sample maximum criterion of 235 orgs/100 ml.   According to U.S.  EPA guidelines for Section 305(b) reporting and according to IDNR’s assessment/listing methodology, if the geometric mean level of E.  coli is greater than the state criterion of 126 orgs/100 ml., the primary contact recreation uses should be assessed as "not supported" (see pgs 3-33 to 3-35of U.S.  EPA 1997b).  

Monitoring at the IDNR station east of Hornick showed no violations of Class B(WW2) water quality criteria in the 35 samples collected during the 2004-2006 assessment period for dissolved oxygen (minimum value = 7.4 mg/l), pH (range = 7.9 to 8.5 units), or ammonia-nitrogen (maximum value = 1.1).    Levels of pesticides in the eight samples analyzed were all below Class B(WW2) chronic criteria.    None of the 10 samples analyzed for toxic metals during the assessment period exceeded the respective Class B(WW2) criteria.    These results suggest "full support" of the Class B(WW2) aquatic life uses.    The extensive habitat alterations due to channel straightening in this stream system suggest a concern regarding full support of the aquatic life uses.    This conclusion is based on a stream use assessment conducted by IDNR staff in 1995 (see assessments developed for the 1996, 1998, and 2000 reporting cycles for more information).

Monitoring and Methods
Assessment Key Dates
12/5/2006 Fixed Monitoring End Date
1/6/2004 Fixed Monitoring Start Date
230 Fixed station physical/chemical (conventional plus toxic pollutants)
420 Water column surveys (e.g. fecal coliform)
Monitoring Levels
Biological 0
Habitat 0
Physical Chemistry 3
Toxic 3
Pathogen Indicators 3
Other Health Indicators 0
Other Aquatic Life Indicators 0
# of Bio Sites 0
BioIntegrity N/A
Causes and Sources of Impairment
Causes Use Support Cause Magnitude Sources Source Magnitude
Other habitat alterations Aquatic Life Support Not Impairing
  • Bank or Shoreline Modification/Destabilization
  • Channelization
  • Not Impairing
  • Not Impairing
Pathogens Primary Contact Recreation Moderate
  • Source Unknown
  • Moderate