Assessment is based on: (1) results of IDNR/UHL ambient water quality monitoring downstream of Independence (station 10100002) from 2004 through 2006, (2) results of biological monitoring by IDNR Fisheries in 2002, (3) results of EPA/IDNR fish tissue (RAFT) monitoring in 2000 approximately 1 mile southeast of Independence, and (4) results of an IDNR fish kill investigation in August 2005.
Basis for Assessment
SUMMARY: Class A1 (primary contact recreation) use are assessed (monitored) as “fully supported.” The Class B(WW1) aquatic life uses remain assessed (evaluated) as "partially supported" based on occurrence of a fish kill in 2005. Fish consumption uses remain assessed (evaluated) as "fully supported" based on results of U.S. EPA/IDNR fish contaminant monitoring in 2000. The sources of data for this assessment include (1) results of IDNR/UHL ambient water quality monitoring downstream of Independence (station 10100002) from 2004 through 2006, (2) results of biological monitoring by IDNR Fisheries in 2002, (3) results of EPA/IDNR fish tissue (RAFT) monitoring in 2000 approximately 1 mile southeast of Independence, and (4) results of an IDNR fish kill investigation in August 2005.
EXPLANATION: The Class A1 (primary contact recreation) use are assessed as “fully supported.” 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 the 2006 Section 305(b) assessments and Section 303(d) listings.
The geometric mean level of indicator bacteria (E. coli) in the 24 samples collected from the IDNR/UHL ambient station during the recreational seasons of 2004, 2005, and 2006 (57 orgs/100ml) is well-below the Iowa Class A1 water quality criterion of 126 orgs/100ml. Only two of the 24 samples collected (8%) exceeded Iowa’s single-sample maximum criterion of 235 orgs/100 ml. According to U.S. EPA guidelines for Section 305(b) reporting, “full support” of primary contact recreation uses is suggested if the geometric mean level is below the water quality criterion and if less than 10% of samples exceed the single-sample maximum criterion.
The results of IDNR/UHL ambient water quality monitoring from 2004 through 2006 suggest "full support" of the Class B(WW1) uses due to the lack of violations of state water quality criteria for pH, dissolved oxygen, and ammonia-nitrogen in the approximately 35 samples collected during the 2004-2006 period. In addition, no violations of Class B(WW1) chronic criteria occurred in the seven samples analyzed for the pesticide chlorpyrifos during this period. None of the ten samples analyzed for toxic metals violated the respective Class B(WW1) criteria.
Results of biological monitoring conducted in 2002 by the IDNR Fisheries Bureau suggest that the Class B(WW1) aquatic life use should be assessed (evaluated) as "fully supported." A series of biological metrics which reflect stream water quality and habitat integrity were calculated from the Fisheries sampling data. The biological metrics are based on the numbers and types of 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). The index ranks the biological integrity of a stream sampling reach on a rising scale from 0 (minimum) to 100 (maximum). The 2002 evaluated FIBI was 65 (good). The aquatic life use support was assessed (evaluated) as fully supporting (=FS), based on a comparison of the FIBI score with biological impairment criteria (BIC) established for previous Section 305(b) reports. The biological impairment criteria were determined from a statistical analysis of data collected at stream ecoregion reference sites from 1994-2004. The riffle site FIBI BIC for this ecoregion is 65.
The occurrence of a fish kill in this river segment late August, 2005, however, suggests that the Class B(WW) uses of this river segment should be assessed (evaluated) as impaired. IDNR Fisheries staff investigated the kill. Seventeen dead channel catfish ranging in length from 12 to more than 20 inches were found immediately downriver from the Independence Dam; only channel catfish appeared to have been affected by the kill. The kill was attributed to stress associated with high water temperatures and was not caused by a pollutant. According to IDNR’s assessment and listing methodology, a single fish kill attributed to non-pollutant sources within the most recent three-year period suggests that the aquatic life uses should be assessed (evaluated) as “partially supported.” Due to lack of a pollutant source, this type of kill is not appropriate for Section 303(d) listing but is appropriate for Subcategory 2b of Iowa's Integrated Report.
Fish consumption uses remain assessed (evaluated) as “fully supported” based on results of U.S.EPA/IDNR fish contaminant (RAFT) monitoring downstream from Independence in 2000. The composite samples of fillets from channel catfish and smallmouth bass had low levels of contaminants. The existence of, or potential for, a fish consumption advisory is the basis for Section 305(b) assessments of the degree to which Iowa’s lakes and rivers support their fish consumption uses. Prior to 2006, IDNR used action levels published by the U.S Food and Drug Administration to determine whether consumption advisories should be issued for fish caught as part of recreational fishing in Iowa. In an effort to make Iowa’s consumption more compatible with the various protocols used by adjacent states, the Iowa Department of Public Health, in cooperation with Iowa DNR, developed a risk-based advisory protocol. This protocol went into effect in January 2006 (see http://www.iowadnr.gov/fish/news/consump.html for more information on Iowa’s revised fish consumption advisory protocol). Because the revised (2006) protocol is more restrictive than the previous protocol based on FDA action levels; fish contaminant data that previously suggested “full support” may now suggest either a threat to, or impairment of, fish consumption uses. This scenario, however, does not apply to the fish contaminant data generated from the 2000 RAFT sampling conducted in this segment of the Wapsipinicon River: the levels of contaminants do not exceed any of the new (2006) advisory trigger levels, thus suggesting no justification for issuance of a consumption advisory for this waterbody.