Beneficial Use Attainment
The Clean Water Commission of Missouri identifies livestock and wildlife watering, aquatic life protection, and fishing as beneficial water uses in all classified streams in the Pomme de Terre River watershed. Stream use classifications, according to the 1996 Missouri State Water Law (MDNR 1996) can be found in Table Wq01.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors water quality throughout the United States and compares the results to a national reference level developed for specific pollutants. Four conventional water quality indicators are routinely reported: ammonia, phosphorus, pH, and dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen is an indicator of available oxygen within the system. The reference levels for these indicators are : ammonia = (recommended chronic levels for ammonia were taken from Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Ammonia, EPA 440/5-85-001, p.97 and vary considerably relative to temperature and pH), dissolved oxygen = 5.0 mg/L (in accedence if below this value), pH = 6.0 to 9.0 (in accedence if >9.0 or <6.0) and phosphorus = 0.1 mg/L. Out of 186 observations of phosphorus levels, 49 (26.3%) exceeded the criteria level, and out of 137 ammonia observations, 27 (19.7%) exceeded the criteria level. No observations in pH (n=1,134) or dissolved oxygen (57) exceeded the criteria levels. The EPA lists organic enrichment to be the most prevalent cause of river pollution in the Pomme de Terre watershed and municipal point sources to be the most prevalent source of river pollution.
Point Source Pollution
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources states that six sizeable wastewater discharges exist in the watershed (excluding discharges directly into Pomme de Terre Lake) (MDNR 1996) (Table Wq02). The Fair Grove discharge is within known distribution of Niangua darters. Niangua darters are a federally threatened fish species that are present in the watershed. Niangua darters and Niangua darter critical habitat and range are discussed in more detail in the Biotic Community and Habitat Conditions sections.
Known problem areas associated with municipal waste water treatment facilities (WWTF) include Lindley Creek seriously polluted for 4.5 miles downstream of the Buffalo WWTF discharge (Ryck 1973). The problems associated with the Buffalo WWTF were still evident in 1998 (John Ford, MDNR, pers. comm.). A report by MDC (MDC 1978) also listed this portion of Lindley Creek as being negatively impacted by excessive aquatic plant growth resulting in a reduction of aquatic life. As of March 1997 there were 54 NPDES facilities within the watershed (Figure Wq01). Table Wq03 gives a breakdown of the number of NPDES permits per subwatershed.
Fifty-four National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are currently active in the Watershed. Most of these permits are located in areas with higher human population densities. Sixty-five percent of the NPDES permits are located in the the Middle and Upper Pomme de Terre hydrologic units (Figure Wq01).
Non-point Source Pollution
Eutrophication is a problem in most Watershed streams as evidenced by the number that have heavy, thick filamentous algae concentrations. Most streams are being impacted by runoff from livestock grazing. Cattle have free access to streams in most cases. The MDNR (1994) stated that, "there has been a trend of increasing numbers of dairy cattle in the southern portion of the basin (Osage River Basin). Many of these dairies are not adequately managing animal wastes and it is running off into spring branches and streams," A major non-point source can be found just southeast of Bolivar where a new golf course is being built. Siltation has been a major problem in Piper Creek during construction of this golf course.
The largest decline in stream quality of the Pomme de Terre River between the highway D crossing and PP crossing occurs as a result of waters received from Piper Creek. In August 1996 water above the Piper Creek confluence was noticeably clearer compared to below the confluence where floating mats of algae could be seen and slack water areas had a surface film of "scummy algae." Field observations of Piper Creek confirmed this stream is being impacted by eutrophication. Suspected sources include point sources in the Bolivar area, golf course construction and fertilizer application, and cattle with free access to streams.
Fish Kills and Pollution Incidents
Several fish kills have been reported throughout the Watershed since the early 1970s (Table Wq04). One, a 1991 Pomme de Terre River fish kill in Webster County, occurred in the upper known range of the Niangua darter. Although no Niangua darters were reported killed, this exemplifies the potential threats not only to successful recovery of this threatened species, but to all aquatic biota inhabiting streams in the Watershed. Fish kills have been a problem in Pomme de Terre Lake in the 1990s.
Fish consumption advisories are published annually by the Missouri Department of Health. The most recent (MDOH 1998) advisory states that all fish are safe to eat in any amount from lakes and streams in the Ozarks. This includes all streams and lakes in the Watershed.
Missouri STREAM TEAMs are volunteers who help protect streams throughout the state. STREAM TEAMs are supported by MDC, MDNR, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. There have been four STREAM TEAMs active in the watershed. Their efforts include litter clean-up, water chemistry and macroinvertebrate sampling, tree planting for bank stabilization, and stream inventories. The STREAM TEAM programs and citizen awareness about stream issues have been a growing and important facet of protection and enhancement of state waters. These organizations will continue to play ever important roles in future stream issues.