Water Quality

Beneficial Use Attainment

Approximately 636.4 stream miles and 24,379.5 impoundment acres within the South Grand River Watershed are classified and have designated beneficial uses as presented in Tables G and H of the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources Division 20-Clean Water Commission Chapter 7-Water Quality (Table Wq01) (MDNR 2001b). These streams must meet or exceed established criteria as defined in Table A of the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources Division 20-Clean Water Commission Chapter 7-Water Quality for those beneficial uses (MDNR 1999a). All watershed streams and impoundments listed in Table Wq01 are designated for livestock/wildlife watering as well as protection of aquatic life. Many impoundments within the watershed have additional designated beneficial uses. Eleven impoundments are designated for drinking water; twenty-seven are designated for boating; three are designated for whole body contact recreation; and one impoundment is designated for industrial use. The largest impoundment in the watershed, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, is designated for livestock and wildlife watering, protection of aquatic life, whole body contact recreation, boating, and drinking water supply. The South Grand River is the only stream within the watershed having an additional designated beneficial use. In addition to livestock and wildlife watering and protection of aquatic life, the South Grand River is designated for boating. The designations for the South Grand River are from the river's mouth to Township 44 North, Range 33 West, Section 2; a distance of approximately 48.0 miles.

It is important to note that, while a stream or impoundment may have a beneficial use designation, this designation does not mean that those uses occur on that particular water body or are permitted on that water body.

Section 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Law requires that states identify their impaired waters (MDNR 2002a). This is accomplished by comparing data from those waters with water quality criteria established for designated beneficial uses of those waters (MDNR 2002a). Waters that do not meet their criteria are then included in the 303(d) list. The state must then conduct Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies on those waters based on a priority ranking in order to determine what pollution control measures are required to restore those waters to meet their designated uses (MDNR 2002a). Currently, there are 8 streams and 2 impoundments within the South Grand River Watershed included in the 1998 303(d) list (Table Wq02) (MDNR 1998a). All streams included on the list, with the exception of Big Creek, have impairments associated with coal mining. Big Creek is included in the list due to excessive sedimentation from agriculture non-point sources. The two impoundments on the list include Truman Reservoir, which is listed because of manganese from natural sources, and Pleasant Hill Lake, which is on the list due to chlordane from urban non-point runoff. At the time of this writing (2003), the 2002 303d list is currently open for public comment and therefore has not been finalized. The draft 2002 303d list for Missouri does include changes from the 1998 listing. More Information can be found regarding the Draft Missouri 2002 303d list on the EPA's Region 7 TMDL website.

In addition to streams listed on the Missouri 303d list, the EPAs Watershed Assessment Tracking and Environmental Results System (WATERS) database includes data for additional streams within the watershed which are believed to be impacted.

Chemical and Biological Quality of Streamflow

Data regarding the chemical and biological quality of stream flow within the South Grand River Watershed has been collected by different entities since 1962. Government agencies which have conducted water quality sampling of stream flow within the watershed include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In addition some water quality data has been collected by Stream Team organizations. It appears that no long-term comprehensive stream flow water quality data exists within the South Grand River Watershed. Only 4 sites have periods of record for water quality exceeding one year. This fact makes a comprehensive analysis of stream flow chemical quality for the watershed difficult and unreliable.

Due to a lack of comprehensive data as well as the great variation of time periods and parameters between water quality stations within the South Grand River Watershed it is not possible to perform an adequate and comprehensive analysis of chemical water quality to be applied to the entire watershed. However, using data from the EPA Legacy STORET Database as well as data from a single USGS water quality station, analysis of some available basic water quality parameters for the time period 1991 through 2000 has been performed for 6 selected water quality stations within the watershed in order to gain an understanding of possible water quality issues within the watershed (Figure Wq01). Parameters analyzed included water temperature; dissolved oxygen; pH; nitrogen, total ammonia; phosphorus; and fecal coliform. It is important to note that all of the aforementioned parameters were not available for all stations. It is also important to note that 3 of the stations occur within the flood control pool of Truman Reservoir and thus experience periodic inundation.

Parameters which had measurements failing to meet state standards for water quality (or, in the absence of a state standard; federal recommendations) included dissolved oxygen and total phosphorus (Table Wq03). Low dissolved oxygen was the most prevalent parameter that failed to meet state standards for water quality within the watershed. Dissolved oxygen levels failed to meet these standards at three of the six stations in a combined 13 of 101 samples analyzed. The only station analyzed for which total phosphorus measurements were available (station 06921881: South Grand River at Grand River Church), exceeded the EPA recommended level in 14 out of 26 observations. This site also exhibited high fecal coliform levels. A relative comparison of fecal coliform levels and total phosphorus levels indicates a strong correlation between the two (Figure Wq02). This would suggest that the high levels of phosphorus are organic in nature, perhaps coming from human or animal waste inputs.

As stated previously, 7 streams within the watershed are chemically affected by pollutants associated with coal mining. These pollutants included low pH and elevated levels of sulfate (MDNR 1998a). Additional, although limited, water quality data for the South Grand River Watershed is available from the USGS Historical Water Quality Data Website and the annual USGS Water Resources Data Reports as well as the EPA Storage and Retrieval (STORET) Database. In addition, volunteer water quality monitoring data is available from the Missouri Stream Team online database. Additional State Water Quality Standards are available in the most current document of the Rules of the Department of Natural Resources Division 20-Clean Water Commission Chapter 7-Water Quality.

The Missouri Unified Watershed Assessment designates the South Grand River Watershed as having severe biotic impairment. The causes of this impairment include channel alterations, excessive nitrification, and toxic metals/chemicals (MUWASC 1998).

Point Source Pollution

Table Wq04 lists 110 municipal and non-municipal waste water and water treatment facilities (not including concentrated animal feeding operations) within the South Grand Watershed (Figure Wq03) (MDNR 1998a, 2000b, 2000c). There are 20 municipal waste water and water treatment facilities within the watershed. The three largest of these are waste water facilities which serve the cities of Harrisonville, Belton, and Clinton, Missouri. Discharges from these facilities have a combined flow of approximately 7.38 million gallons per day.

In addition to municipal and non-municipal waste water facilities, fifteen permitted concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) existed in the watershed between 1988 and 1998 (Table Wq05)(Figure Wq02)(MDNR 1999b). The most prevalent type of operation involved swine production, while the second most prevalent type of operation involved poultry production. The largest facility in the watershed was a class 1B swine facility located on a tributary of Harding Creek. Class 1B facilities are capable of holding 3,000-6,999 animal units. The total animal units at the aforementioned facility were 3,481. Six permitted operations within the watershed were classified as non-point operations with less than 300 animal units.

Non-point Source Pollution

Perhaps one of the more difficult challenges to address within any watershed is non-point source pollution. Whereas point source pollution can usually be traced to a single discharge point or area such as a waste water treatment plant discharge, non point source pollution, such as sheet and gully erosion of topsoil, runoff of nutrients from pastures, or pesticide and fertilizer runoff from fields, is much more difficult to detect as well as remedy. It takes the cooperation of the landowners within a watershed to minimize non-point source pollution and its impacts.

A significant non-point source pollution concern within the South Grand River Watershed is soil erosion and the resulting sedimentation. The NRCS (formerly known as the SCS) estimated sheet erosion at 2.5-5 tons per acre per year. While this is considered low for agricultural land, the NRCS rating of gully erosion at 0.3-0.8 tons per acre per year in the watershed is considered severe (MDNR 1992).

The largely agricultural nature of the watershed combined with the channelization of several streams including the South Grand appear to be the most probable factors that have contributed to high levels of gulley erosion in the watershed. The EPA Watershed Assessment Tracking, and Environmental Results Database (USEPA 2003), lists agriculture/crop related sources as "probable sources contributing to" the impairment of 463.6 miles of streams in the watershed. In addition, MDNR (1992) states that "since a much greater relative percent of gully erosion than sheet erosion is delivered to streams, agriculture erosion and sediment deposition in streams should probably be considered a basin wide problem." Channelization within the watershed has likely compounded the problem. Channelization is known to increase bank instability and cause headcutting of the stream channel (Bolton and Shellberg 2001). This can have a reverse domino-effect as headcuts travel upstream increasing bank instability and erosion of tributaries, even in some severe instances causing small drainages in fields to become deep gulleys.

Pesticides are another non-point source pollution concern associated with the agricultural aspect of the watershed. It is estimated that approximately 26% of the watershed is cropland with approximately 15% of the watersheds riparian corridor in cropland, leaving little or no buffer for filtering out runoff which could carry pesticides to streams. Figure Wq04 shows percent of acres treated by county for various pesticide types.

Another major non-point source pollution concern within the South Grand River Watershed is runoff from mined lands. The MDNR "Incidents of Mines Occurrences, and Prospects" (IMOP) Database contains data on 31 "active" mines and 325 "past producers" within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri (MDNR 2001a). The highest percentage of "past producers" were coal mines followed by limestone (MDNR 2001a). The majority of the coal mines (63%) are surface mines and are located in the lower portion of the watershed. Nearly all (92%) of limestone mines are surface mines. The distribution of coal mines within the watershed is limited to drainages flowing into the lower South Grand, and Truman Reservoir. When compared to other mining activities, coal mines appear to have had the greatest impact on water quality within the watershed. While the physical impacts of strip mining of coal include erosion and sedimentation, chemical impacts include high sulfate concentration, iron and manganese deposits, and acid mine drainage which can decrease the pH of impacted waters (MDNR 2002b). It should be noted that reclamation projects such as the Tebo Creek Project have been carried out on some abandoned mine lands within watershed (MDNR 2003).

As stated previously, 7 streams within the watershed are chemically affected by pollutants associated with coal mining. These pollutants included low pH and elevated levels of sulfate (MDNR 1998a).

As with many other watersheds in the state, livestock, and in particular cattle populations, can potentially adversely affect water quality within the South Grand River Watershed. This is especially true when livestock are allowed to linger in riparian zones. Estimated animal unit density (animal units/acre) for the South Grand River Watershed based on the 1992 Census of Agriculture was 0.161(MUWASC 1998). An animal unit is equal to "roughly one beef cow or 1,000 pounds live weight" (MUWASC 1998). Much of the livestock population data currently available is based on county estimates. Analysis of United States Department of Agriculture-National Agriculture Statistics Service (USDA-NASS 2000) data indicates that in 1999, counties intersecting the South Grand River Watershed had an average of 26.8 head of hogs per square mile and 73.5 head of cattle per square mile. For comparison, the average for counties statewide was 30.6 head of hogs per square mile and 62.4 head of cattle per square mile. While CAFOs, which were previously addressed as point source discharges, accounts for a certain percentage of livestock included in these statistics, the majority of livestock within the watershed are probably pastured. This makes the presence of nutrient filtering timbered stream corridors and limited livestock access to streams important tools landowners can use to minimize the impacts of livestock on water quality.

Runoff from urban and suburban areas as well as urban expansion can result in pollutants such as petroleum products, lawn fertilizers and pesticides, and sediment reaching streams. Approximately 0.4% of land cover in the South Grand River Watershed is classified as urban. The majority of this is located in the East Branch of the South Grand and the Upper Big Creek Hydrologic Units due to the presence of Harrisonville and outlying communities of the Kansas City area.

Land disruption from road and bridge construction and maintenance often results in increased sediment loads to receiving water systems. Bridge construction can also result in stream channel modification, which affects stream flow both up and downstream from the bridge. The South Grand River Watershed includes approximately 4,605 miles of road. This is 2.3 miles of road for every square mile of drainage area. Approximately 1,960 miles of these roads are probably unpaved (1.0 mi/sq mi). This is based on the assumption that most county roads not intersecting a municipality are unpaved. According to the Draft Missouri Department of Transportation 2004-2008 Highway and Bridge Construction Schedule, there are currently (2003) four state highway projects tentatively planned which involve drainage and/or bridge construction scheduled within the watershed from 2004-2008 (MDOT 2003).

Water Pollution and Fish Kill Investigations

Thirty one water pollution incidents have been investigated in the South Grand River Watershed since 1990 (Table Wq06) (MDC 2003c). The stream impacts associated with these incidents ranged from 0 yards to greater than 26.4 miles, with the impact of one incident unknown. Fourteen of the 31 incidents resulted in fish kills. Half of the fish kills were associated with discharges from sewage treatment facilities, while four of the kills were associated with the operation of Montrose Dam. Prior to 1990, several fish kills occurred due to acid mine drainage (amd) from coal mines located in the lower portion of the watershed(MDNR 2002c, 2002d, and 2002e). Some drainages affected by amd included Big Otter Creek, Barker Creek, and Tebo Creek. While reclamation projects have since been conducted in these watersheds, some release of amd still occurs due to shallow groundwater movement (MDNR 2002c, 2002d, and 2002e).

Unified Watershed Assessment

The Missouri Unified Watershed Assessment Final Report, a cooperative effort of various state and federal agencies as well as the University of Missouri, was completed in 1998. Two purposes of the report were to "identify watersheds that do not meet clean water and other natural resource goals and where prevention action is needed to sustain water quality and aquatic resources" in Missouri (MUWASC 1998) and to rank those watershed in order of priority for restoration action. Ranking was based on a variety of water quality and use criteria. Through this process, the South Grand River Watershed was ranked fourth out of 56 category I watersheds in the state. Factors contributing to this ranking at the time of analysis included the following: seven streams and one lake on 303(d); major pollutants (Sulfate and low pH); severe biological impairment due to channel alterations, excessive nitrification, and toxic metals/chemicals; moderate wetland loss; the presence of thirteen public drinking water intakes; 100% of hydrologic unit in public drinking water watersheds; and the presence of a large public drinking water population.

Water Use

Water use data for the South Grand River Watershed obtained from the USGS National Water Use Database (1998d) indicates that total water withdrawn from the South Grand River Watershed in 1995 was 366.24 million gallons per day (mgd). Most of the water withdrawn from the watershed was from surface water sources. Surface water withdrawn from the watershed was 362.99 mgd while groundwater withdrawn was 3.25 mgd.

Estimated water withdrawal for thermoelectric power generation purposes was the most prevalent use within the South Grand River Watershed in 1995 (USGS 1998d). Withdrawals for this purpose were entirely from surface water source(s) and totaled 354.9 mgd. This accounts for 97% of all withdrawals in the watershed. Withdrawals for livestock was the second most prevalent within the South Grand River Watershed equaling 2.39 mgd. Table Wq07 lists water withdrawals by use category for additional uses in the South Grand River Watershed.

There are 15 surface public drinking water intakes within the South Grand River Watershed (MDNR and CARES 2003a). Thirteen of these intakes are active. These intakes serve the cities of Adrian, Archie, Creighton, Garden City, and Harrisonville as well as Henry County Public Water Supply Districts 2 and 3 both of which receive water from Truman Reservoir. Of the active surface intakes, 9 are lake intakes and 4 are river intakes (Figure Wq05).

Major water use information for the South Grand River Watershed was obtained from the MDNR, Division of Geology and Land Survey. The MDNR maintains records of "major" (those facilities capable of withdrawing 100,000 gallons/day or more) surface and ground water users throughout the state. Recent records (2001) indicate there were a total of 31 major water users withdrawing nearly 2 billion gallons of water from 76 groundwater and surface water wells and/or intakes combined in 2001 (Table Wq08)(MDNR 2003b). Nearly all water (99.9%) was acquired from surface water sources with the remainder coming from ground water sources. Most surface water use (99.9%) and overall water use (92.8%) was associated with Truman Lake hydroelectric operations. Withdrawals by government entities accounted for 99.9% % of water use in the watershed.

Recreational Use

In 1982 the South Grand River Watershed was ranked 27 out of 37 major watersheds in Missouri for recreational value (MDC and MDNR 1982). Results were obtained by surveying professional staff from six state and federal agencies. In the views of respondents, the main problems facing the recreational standing of the watershed included poor land use, intensive agriculture, channel modification, and impoundment respectively. Chemicals and flooding by Truman Reservoir were additional problems mentioned.

While there are 8 public areas having 21.4 miles of permanent streams within the watershed, there are only three public stream accesses all of which are located on the South Grand and only one of which has a developed boat ramp. Low base flows plus the lack of developed public stream access points within the South Grand River Watershed are two of limiting factors to public stream use.

Much of the aquatic oriented recreational use within the watershed is associated with Truman Reservoir. Between 1990 and 1997 (no data for 1993 and 1996) anglers took an average of 40,467 fishing trips per year to Truman. Crappie was the most sought after fish with average estimated hours per angler per year at 17.2. Black bass were the second most sought after fish with average angler effort at 7.6. Average hours spent fishing for other fish were as follows: white bass (0.8), catfish (0.7), walleye (<0.1), hybrid striped bass (<0.1), and sunfish (<0.1). It is important to note that these figures are estimates for the entire Truman Reservoir.

Table Wq01: DNR use designations for selected streams and impoundments within the South Grand River Watershed

Missouri Department of Natural Resources use designations for selected streams and impoundments within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri.

Table Wq02: South Grand River Watershed impaired streams and reservoirs

South Grand River Watershed impaired streams and reservoirs included in the 1998 303d list of Missouri.

Figure Wq01: South Grand River Watershed Water Quality

Map of South Grand River Watershed Water Quality.

Table Wq03: Water quality data for selected stations and parameters within the South Grand Watershed

Water quality data for selected stations and parameters within the South Grand Watershed.

Figure Wq02: Relative comparison of total Phosphorus and fecal coliform levels at USGS Station 06921881

Relative comparison of total Phosphorus and fecal coliform levels at USGS Station 06921881 (South Grand River at Grand River Church) for the period of 1998-2000.

Table Wq04: Municipal and non-municipal waste water and water treatment facilities within the South Grand River Watershed

Municipal and non-municipal waste water and water treatment facilities within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri.

Figure Wq03: South Grand River Watershed Point Source Discharges and CAFOs

Map of the South Grand River Watershed Point Source Discharges and CAFOs.

Table Wq05: Concentrated animal feeding operations permitted within the South Grand River Watershed

Concentrated animal feeding operations permitted within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri between 1988 and 1998.

Figure Wq04: South Grand River Watershed Pesticide Use

South Grand River Watershed pesticide use.

Table Wq06: Fish kill and water pollution investigations within the South Grand River Watershed

Fish kill and water pollution investigations within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri since 1990.

Table Wq07: Water withdrawals by use category within the South Grand River Watershed

Water withdrawals by use category within the South Grand River Watershed in 1995 (USGS 1998a).

Figure Wq05: South Grand River Watershed Surface Public Drinking Water Supply

South Grand River Watershed surface public drinking water supply.

Table Wq08: Major water users within the South Grand River Watershed

Major water users within the South Grand River Watershed in Missouri.