Assessment is based on (1) results of IDNR investigations of a fish kills in April 2004 and August 2011, (2) results of the 2008 IDNR/SHL biological sampling data: FIBI = 24 (poor); BMIBI = 71 (good), and (3) IDNR TMDL-related monitoring near Ellsworth in 2008 and 2009.
Basis for Assessment
[NOTE: Prior to the 2008 Section 305(b) cycle, this stream segment was classified only for general uses. Due to changes in Iowa’s surface water classification that were approved by U.S. EPA in February 2008 (see http://www.iowadnr.com/water/standards/files/06mar_swc.pdf), this segment is now presumptively designated for Class A1 (primary contact recreation) uses and for Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses. According to the Iowa Water Quality Standards, all perennial rivers and streams and all intermittent streams with perennial pools that are not specifically listed in the Iowa surface water classification are designated as Class A1 and Class B(WW1) waters. Thus, for the current assessment, perennial flow is presumed, and the available water quality monitoring data will be compared to the applicable Class A1 and Class B(WW1) water quality criteria.]
SUMMARY: The presumptive Class A1 (primary contact recreation) uses remain assessed (monitored) as "not supported" (IR 5p) due to the levels of indicator bacteria that exceed water quality criteria. The source of data for this assessment is the results of TMDL-related monitoring conducted near Ellsworth (ldc-2; STORET station 11400004) from January 7, 2008 through July 28, 2009. Although chemical water quality monitoring data from this station showed no violations of aquatic life criteria, the presumptive Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses of this stream remain assessed (monitored) as “partially supported” (IR 5b) due to fish kills in April 2004 and August 2011. The 2004 kill was caused by animal waste; the 2011 kill by crop spraying. Although the party responsible for the 2004 kill was identified, IDNR records do not indicate that IDNR sought restitution for the value of the fish killed or for the costs incurred by IDNR during the investigation of the kill. The party responible for the 2011 kill was not identified. Thus, this impairment is appropriate for Category 5b of Iowa’s Integrated Report (=Section 303(d) list). Additionally, the 2008 results of IDNR/SHL biological sampling suggest "evaluated" partial support of aquatic life uses.
EXPLANATION: The Class A1 uses remain assessed (monitored) as "not supported" based on results of ambient monitoring for indicator bacteria (E. coli). The geometric means of indicator bacteria (E. coli) in the 26 samples collected during the recreational seasons of 2008 and 2009 at IDNR TMDL station 11400004 near Ellsworth were as follows: the 2008 geometric mean was 369 orgs/100 ml, and the 2009 geometric mean was 175 orgs/100 ml. Both geometric means slightly exceed the Class A1 criterion of 126 orgs/100 ml. Fifteen of the 26 samples (58%) exceeded the Class A1 single-sample maximum criterion of 235 orgs/100 ml. According to U.S. EPA guidelines for Section 305(b) reporting and IDNR’s assessment/listing methodology, if a recreation season geometric mean exceeds the respective water quality criterion, the contact recreation uses are "not supported" (see pgs 3-33 to 3-35 of U.S. EPA 1997b). Thus, because at least one recreation season geometric mean exceeded criteria for Class A1 uses, these uses are assessed as “impaired.”
Results of TMDL-related chemical/physical water quality monitoring conducted in 2008-2009 did not suggest impairment of the presumptive Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses. None of the 34 samples collected violated Class B(WW1) criteria for dissolved oxygen (minimum value: 8.0 mg/l), and none of the 34 samples violated the temperature/pH-dependent Class B(WW1) chronic criteria for ammonia.
The occurrence of a fish kill in 2004, however, indicates impairment of the aquatic life use of this stream segment. This kill occurred on April 19, 2004; the cause of the kill was attributed to animal waste. An estimated 15 fish (“minnows”) were killed; no estimate of the value of the fish killed was provided. No estimate of the length of stream was provided. The party responsible for the kill was identified. According to the IDNR investigation, a commercial applicator dumped approximately 3,000 gallons of manure after he became stuck while land-applying the manure in a farm field roughly three miles northeast of Randall. Although dumping the manure allowed the applicator to free his equipment, the manure reached a broken tile line at the end of the field. An unknown amount of manure reached Long Dick Creek through this tile line. The applicator acted quickly to place dams (1) in front of the tile line break and (2) below the tile line to block manure coming out of the line from reaching the creek. The applicator pumped manure from behind the dams into a honey wagon. He also flushed contamination out of the tile line with about 1600 gallons of clean water.
An additional fish kill occurred in August 2011. The kill occurred approximately 4 miles NE of Randall on or before August 4, 2011. Approximately 5,900 fish were killed over 0.9 miles of stream. The value of the fish was reported as $758.42; the cost of the IDNR investigation was #337.83. The cause of the kill was identified as crop spraying. According to the IDNR fish kill report, landowners reported a spray plane in vicinity reportedly applying the fungicide Headline to fields adjacent to the stream. The party responsible for the kill was not identified.
According to IDNR’s assessment/listing methodology, the occurrence of a single pollutant-caused fish kill, or a fish kill of unknown origin, on a waterbody or waterbody reach during the most recent assessment period indicates a severe stress to the aquatic community and suggests that the aquatic life uses should be assessed as “impaired”. If a cause of the kill is identified, and the cause is either known, or suspected, to be a “pollutant”, the assessment type is considered “monitored” and the affected waterbody is a candidate for Section 303(d) listing. Fish kills attributed to a pollutant, but where a source of the pollutant was not identified and/or where enforcement actions were not taken against the responsible party, will be placed into Integrated Report subcategory 5b. The intent of placing these waterbodies into Category 5 is not to necessarily require a TMDL but to keep the impairment highlighted due to the potential for similar future kills from the unaddressed causes and/or sources.
If, however, a consent order has been issued to the party responsible for the kill and monetary restitution has been sought for the fish killed, the affected waterbody will be placed in IR Category 4d (impaired but TMDL not required). At the time of this assessment (January 2014), there is no indication that DNR has sought or received restitution for either the 2004 or 2011 fish kill. Thus, this assessment segment reamins in Category 5b of Iowa’s Integrated Report (=303(d) list).
Bioassessment explanation: Results of biological sampling in 2008 suggest that the presumptive Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses of this stream segment should be assessed as “partially supporting”. The assessment of the presumptive Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses was based on data collected in 2008 as part of the IDNR/SHL TMDL biological monitoring program. A series of biological metrics which reflect stream water quality and habitat integrity were calculated from the biocriteria sampling data. The biological metrics are based on the numbers and types of benthic macroinvertebrate taxa and fish species that were collected in the stream sampling reach. The biological metrics were combined to make a fish community index of biotic integrity (FIBI) and a benthic macroinvertebrate index (BMIBI). The indexes rank the biological integrity of a stream sampling reach on a rising scale from 0 (minimum) to 100 (maximum). The 2008 FIBI score was 24 (poor) and the BMIBI score was 71 (good). The aquatic life use support was assessed (evaluated) as partially supporting (=PS), based on a comparison of the FIBI and BMIBI scores with biological impairment criteria (BIC) established from a statistical analysis of data collected at stream ecoregion reference sites from 1994-2008. The riffle habitat FIBI BIC for this ecoregion is 53 and the BMIBI BIC is 62. Even though this site failed the FIBI BIC and passed the BMIBI BIC, it is uncertain as to whether or not this segment is meeting the aquatic life criteria because it is a small headwater stream and doesn’t fall in the calibrated watershed size. This type of assessment is appropriate for Category 3b-u of Iowa’s Integrated Report and will be added to Iowa’s list of water sin need of further investigation.
This biological assessment is considered “evaluated” (of lower confidence) due to the lack of a biological assessment protocol for general use-only streams. IDNR’s existing protocol has been calibrated to aquatic life reference conditions in wadeable Class B(WW2) and Class B(WW1) streams. The aquatic environment of most general use streams is one of extremes in water quality. Consequently, general use-only streams tend to have biological diversity that is low relative to more stable aquatic environments of Class B(WW2) and Class B(WW1) streams. Thus, the use of biological assessment methods developed for the ecologically more stable and diverse Class B(WW2) streams to assess general use reaches will likely overstate the existence of impairment.