Beneficial Use Attainment
The Nodaway River system is designated as suitable for aquatic life, fishing, wildlife and livestock watering (MDNR 1986a, MDNR 1995, IAC 1995). A 12 mile section of the river upstream of Clarinda, Iowa is designated as a raw water source for potable water supply (IADNR 1997a). Several small lakes in the Iowa section of the basin are designated for water supply and/or whole body contact (IADNR 1997a). The Nodaway River basin in Iowa was assessed as partially supporting its designated uses (IADNR 1997b). Small isolated reaches of quality habitat and diverse aquatic communities were found but these were considered atypical of the basin in general (IADNR 1997b). The designation of partially supporting means that a healthy community of regionally distributed aquatic species, expected to be encountered in sampling, are limited in the system (IADNR 1997a). Numbers and diversity of aquatic organisms are expected to remain low because of channelization, sedimentation, and periodic low dissolved oxygen concentrations (MDNR 1995). Soil erosion, sediment deposition, and turbidity all contribute to aquatic habitat degradation (MDNR 1986a). The main water problem in the Nodaway basin in Iowa is agricultural non-point source pollution in the form of sediment (IADNR 1997b). If erosion, stream channel modification, and increased nutrient inputs, and their related water quality problems continue, beneficial uses will not be attained in the future.
Chemical Quality of Stream Flow
It is probable that the streams in northwest Missouri were historically turbid during and after periods of high discharge due to the nature of the soils in the area. The activities of man, chiefly channelization and poor agricultural practices, have magnified sediment delivery, turbidity, and their associated problems in the waters of northwest Missouri (MDNR 1986a).
The trend in the Nodaway River from 1968 to 1984 was increasing nitrate concentrations due to agriculture (fertilizer runoff and animal wastes; MDNR 1986a). Water quality at low flows deteriorates due to lack of water volume to dilute point and non-point source pollution (MDNR 1986a). Soil erosion, sediment deposition, and turbidity all contribute to water quality degradation (MDNR 1986a). Temperatures in excess of 27o C are detrimental to spawning and egg development of many fish. Because of shallow water and low flows, this temperature is probably exceeded regularly in the Nodaway River and its tributaries (USDA-SCS 1982). Minimal effects are seen from sewage treatment plants (MDNR 1995). In general water quality in the Nodaway basin in Iowa is good, but low flows and excessive sediment cause problems and threaten to further degrade water quality if current agricultural practices continue (IADNR 1997b). Table Wq01 presents data for water quality in the Nodaway River in Missouri for two years and how they compare to state established water quality standards.
Contaminants, Fish Kills, and Health Advisories
Fish consumption advisories have been issued for all waters of Missouri, excluding the Ozarks, by the Missouri Department of Health (MDOH) since 1985 (MDOH 1996). The MDOH recommends eating no more than one pound per week of bottom feeding fish such as catfish, buffalo, drum, common carp, suckers, and paddlefish, from the Nodaway River and its tributaries (MDC 1997). No consumption advisories apply to bass, sunfish, crappie, or walleye (MDOH 1996).
In 1971, Reliable Rendering Company of Quitman, Missouri was reportedly discharging untreated waste into the Nodaway River, which posed a health and odor problem, but was small enough in quantity that it probably created no measurable effect on water quality (Ryck MDC, internal memo May 20, 1971). In 1984 a fish kill on the East Nodaway River in Iowa was caused by a pesticide spill, but the magnitude and number of fish killed were not known (John Olson IADNR, personal communication).
With the erosive nature of area soils and the increased water velocities due to channelization, several emergency channel stabilization efforts have been undertaken to prevent undermining of bridges, roads, and pipelines. If the river were to erode around a buried pipeline, a significant spill could occur with detrimental effects on downstream habitat and wildlife (MDC files).
A possible threat to the basin is the increasing number of concentrated animal feeding operations. Manure spills and improper land application of waste residues from these facilities have caused serious water quality problems and fish kills in other river basins in Missouri (MDNR 1996a). Low base flows and the reduced volume of water associated with them could create serious problems for aquatic communities in the Nodaway River basin if improper disposal practices at one of these facilities were to occur.
Several communities including Maitland, Clearmont, Graham, Skidmore, Fillmore, and Burlington Junction in Missouri, and Greenfield, Fontanelle, Nodaway, Prescott, Cumberland, Villisca, College Springs, Braddyville, and Shambaugh in Iowa withdraw water from the unconsolidated aquifer near the Nodaway River. Both Clearmont and Maitland, Missouri have a chronic problem of drinking water exceeding the standard for nitrate contamination (MDNR 1995). The primary source suspected of creating the problem is local agricultural activities (MDNR 1995). Groundwater in the Nodaway basin in Iowa generally does not meet Iowa Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) standards for drinking water due to excessive total dissolved solids, nitrates, iron, manganese, chloride, and/or sodium (USDA 1981).
Surface water is usually high in iron or manganese but is economically treatable and total dissolved solids and nitrates normally meet the standards set by the IDEQ (USDA 1981). The only surface water intake on the Nodaway River for municipal drinking water use is at Clarinda, Iowa. Several small lakes in the Nodaway watershed, in Iowa, are surface water sources for municipal water supply (IADNR 1997a).
Livestock watering is the largest water use in the Nodaway River basin (MDNR 1986a). Small areas have been irrigated but highly mineralized and unreliable water sources have limited this practice (USCOE 1973). In 1977, about 21,000 acres were irrigated in northwest Missouri. This was projected to increase to 100,000 acres by the year 2000 with the Nodaway River basin included in the area where the greatest increase would occur (Skelton, et al. 1982). Irrigation in Andrew, Holt, and Nodaway counties totaled 42.8 million gallons in 1996 (MDNR 1996a).
Point Source Pollution
Only 0.7 miles of the Nodaway River system in Missouri was estimated to be impacted by point source pollution from sewage treatment plants (MDNR 1995). These areas were small reaches below the Burlington Junction and Skidmore, Missouri sewage treatment plant discharges (MDNR 1995). There are no permitted discharges of metals or toxic organic materials in the Missouri section of the Nodaway basin (MDNR 1995). Table Wq02 lists all permitted wastewater discharges (Figure Wq01) in the Nodaway River basin. Table Wq03 lists all other point source discharges in the Nodaway River Basin.
Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a growing presence in the basin (38,536 Population Equivalency units (PE) in MO, and 63,300 PE in IA). A listing of all permitted CAFOs in the basin are found in Table Wq04. History indicates that problems with discharges from these operations sometimes occurs. This could seriously impact the water quality and aquatic organisms in the Nodaway River basin should an accidental discharge occur.
The number of hogs and cattle in the basin are considered to be equivalent to a human population of 1.03 million (MDNR 1995). This is roughly 30 times larger than the human population in the basin. Concentrated animal feeding operations are classified as point source discharges and make up 101,836 PE in the basin. The remainder are from ranging livestock.
Non-Point Source Pollution
Non-point source pollution causes most water quality problems in the Nodaway River basin (MDNR 1995). Soil erosion, sediment deposition, and turbidity all contribute to water quality degradation (MDNR 1986a). Soil erosion, channelization, and livestock waste are the three main sources of non-point source pollution (MDNR 1995).
In 1980, soil erosion was estimated to be 17.1 tons/acre/year due to sheet erosion, 4.8 tons/acre/year due to gully erosion, and the sediment yield by streams was 6.1 tons/acre/year (Anderson 1980). On some cropland not protected by conservation practices, the soil loss rate was found to be as high as 30 tons/acre/year (USDA-SCS 1983). In 1995 the estimates were 13-18 tons/acre/year due to sheet erosion, 0.8 - 1.1 tons/acre/year due to gully erosion, and suspended sediment delivery by streams was 3.5 tons/acre/year (MDNR 1995). This indicates progress is being made but probably not enough to help the stream resources impacted by sediments.