Water Quality

BENEFICIAL USE ATTAINMENT

The basin has streams which are classified for all beneficial uses listed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR 1994) (Table Wq01). The basin also has one Metropolitan No-Discharge Stream, the entire length of Pearson Creek.

Under this designation, no water contaminant except uncontaminated cooling water, permitted stormwater discharges in compliance with permit conditions, and excess wet-weather discharges not interfering with beneficial uses, shall be discharged to Pearson Creek (Moriarty 1994).

In addition to the streams, Sequiota Park Lake (Class L3) has been classified for livestock watering and aquatic life use, and Lake Springfield (Class L3) has been classified for livestock watering, aquatic life, industrial, and boating and canoeing. Table Rock Lake, at the foot of the basin, has use designations for livestock watering, aquatic life, whole body contact recreation, and boating and canoeing.

CHEMICAL QUALITY, CONTAMINATION, AND FISH KILLS

Several streams have had health advisories listed on selected fish species. In 1991, Level I and III health advisories were issued on fishes in the James River Basin.

A level I advisory is issued for a species or area if contaminant levels are elevated but lower than the level of concern. If this advisory is issued, consumption of the fish species should be limited. A level I advisory was issued due to chlordane for all fish species in the James River from Wilson Creek to Piney Creek in 1991.

A level III advisory is issued for a species or area if most of the fish which are tested have contaminant concentrations above levels of concern. Under this advisory, the specified fish should not be eaten. This level of advisory was implemented due to chlordane contamination in paddlefish and their eggs found in the James River and Table Rock Lake. This level was also issued for carp and channel catfish species found in Wilson Creek.

The level I advisory was lifted for all species except paddlefish in 1993. The level III advisories were also lifted for all species in 1993. The level I advisory for paddlefish was lifted in 1995. No advisories are currently in effect.

Chemical water quality data have been collected throughout the basin. Collections have been taken by USGS at gages on the James River and Wilson Creek. Other groups have sampled water quality at various localities in the Crane Creek, Finley Creek, and Flat Creek sub-basins. All samples for each particular site were averaged, and the site high and low values were recorded in Table Wq02. Parameters considered were water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, fecal coliform, and fecal strep. In some cases other water quality parameters were tested, and this information may be found in Castillon (1994), Castillon (unpublished), and USGS (1989, 1993, and 1994).

According to the water quality standards set forth by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Clean Water Commission (1996) pH should range from 6-9, fecal coliform levels should not exceed 1,000 colonies per milliliter per day, temperature for cold water fisheries should not exceed 68 degrees Farenheit, and the temperature for cool water fisheries should not exceed 84 degrees. Nitrate levels of 10 mg/L or less are the standard criteria for drinking water supply. Dissolved oxygen levels for cool and warm water fisheries should be no lower than 5ppm and no lower than 6ppm for cold water fisheries.

Review of the water quality data collected in the basin indicate that pH levels were never reported outside the ranges recommended by the water quality standards. Fecal coliform levels were exceeded on the James River near Wilson Creek and Boaz. Fecal coliform levels were also exceeded in the Crane Creek drainage, on Crane Creek, Spring Creek, and Hayes Spring. Temperatures for cool water fisheries were exceeded once on the James River. Dissolved oxygen levels fell below the standard levels at three locations on Finley Creek. Nitrate levels were exceeded in the Crane Creek and Flat Creek drainages, but these streams are not designated for drinking water supplies.

Fish kills have been investigated throughout the basin since the 1970's. Forty-one fish kills have been investigated since 1980 (Table Wq03), and of these, 13 were from Jordan Creek, 5 were from Wilson Creek, and 5 from the James River in Greene County. All but 5 fish kill locations were in Greene County. Sewage discharge is the most common problem cited in the investigation of fish kills in this region.

WATER USE

Except Springfield, most municipalities in the basin use wells for their municipal water-supply facilities (Table Wq04). Springfield receives its water supply from both surface and groundwater, primarily from areas outside the James River basin. Springfield does receive water from the James River Intake (28N, 21W, 2) and from four wells: Well #10 (29N, 22W, 20), Well #11 (28N, 22W,11), Well #12 (28N, 22W, 11) and Well #13 (29N, 21W, 34) within the basin.

In 1999 the James River Intake provided 23.74% of the annual raw water for the City of Springfield (Adam Coulter, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, personal communication). This totaled a withdrawal of approximately 2,447 million gallons or an average of 6.7 million gallons per day.

POINT SOURCE POLLUTION

Point source pollution affects many of the streams in the basin including the James River itself. Sewage treatment facilities in Clever, Crane, Fordland, Rogersville, Seymour, Sparta, Reeds Spring, Nixa, Ozark, Springfield, Galena, Purdy, Washburn, and Exeter discharge effluents to streams. Numerous industries, subdivisions, mobile home parks, and apartment complexes also have permits to discharge into streams. The streams which seem to be the most affected include: Jordan Creek, Wilson Creek, Terrell Branch in Webster County, Finley Creek, and the James River in Christian County and again in the James River arm of Table Rock Lake in Stone County. Most discharges effect less than 0.1 mile of the receiving stream. However, five miles of Wilson Creek are believed to be affected by discharge from the Springfield Southwest Treatment Plant, and about 1 mile of Railey Creek in Stone County is believed to be affected by the Reeds Spring wastewater treatment plant (MDNR 1995a). Concern has been expressed repeatedly over the effects of phosphorus from these sources on the productivity of the lower James River and Table Rock Lake. A list of all the permitted point sources in the basin is included in Table Wq05. In addition to the NDPES permits, there are also several permitted stormwater discharges (Table Wq06). To report pollution incidents contact the Department of Natural Resources.

NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION

There are several potential sources for nonpoint pollution in the watershed. The nonpoint sources include dairy cattle operations, poultry or turkey husbandry, sedimentation from erosion in disturbed watersheds, sludge application from sewage treatment facilities, coal pile runoff from the power plant in southwest Greene County, and some dioxin and volatile organics in the groundwater from Syntex Agribusiness (MDNR 1995a). Seepage from septic systems throughout the basin is another unquantified source of nonpoint pollutants.

Several large dairy cattle farms are a significant source of nonpoint pollution. Poultry barn operations and related land application of wastes are also potential and increasing sources of nonpoint source pollution. In 1988, the MDNR also recognized the Webster County landfill as a potential source of nonpoint pollution in the James River Basin due to leachate discharge into streams and severe soil erosion. Several farming operations have been given site descriptions by the MDNR as potential nonpoint sources of pollution (Table Wq07).

Table Wq01: Stream use classifications for the James River Basin

Stream use classifications for the James River Basin

Table Wq02: Water quality averages for the James River Basin

Water quality averages for the James River Basin

Table Wq03: Fish kill summary for the James River Basin from 1980- 1995

Fish kill summary for the James River Basin from 1980- 1995

Table Wq04: Municipalities in the James River Basin with wells for water-supply facilities

Municipalities in the James River Basin with wells for water-supply facilities

Table Wq05: Permitted point sources in the James River Basin

Permitted point sources in the James River Basin

Table Wq06: Permitted stormwater discharges in the James River Basin

Permitted stormwater discharges in the James River Basin

Table Wq07: Nonpoint source operations in the James River Basin

Nonpoint source operations in the James River Basin