Monitoring on Mud, Camp, and Spring Creeks is currently being done through the IOWATER program, a voluntary water monitoring program supported with expertise and resources through the IDNR and local partners, including Polk County Conservation. Field measurements were taken for nitrate, nitrite, phosphorous, chloride, dissolved oxygen, and water transparency. Additional tests have been run on Camp Creek through the STORET program (STOrage and RETrieval). There are 9 IOWATER monitoring sites on Mud Creek, 6 IOWATER monitoring sites and 3 STORET monitoring sites on Camp Creek, and 4 IOWATER monitoring sites on Spring Creek. Each creek has been intermittently sampled between 2001 and 2015 and twice a month starting in 2015 with the sites identified in Section 6.
The general findings of the analyzed data are as follows:
- phosphorous levels range from low to high throughout the watersheds
- dissolved oxygen levels are generally normal to high
- nitrate concentrations are typically normal to high
- chloride concentrations range from low to normal
The general findings were developed from monitoring results, which are dependent on the date of monitoring. Monitoring data can be found in here (link to appendix D). The combination of monitoring results from both sources is summarized in the table below, which compares the Iowa Water Quality Standards to the Monitoring Data Averages.
Based on the monitoring results available and assessments conducted on the creeks, the pollutants of concern in the watershed were prioritized by stakeholders and the WMA. These include groups of both primary and secondary pollutants. Primary pollutants include sediment and bacteria and secondary pollutants include phosphorous and nitrogen. Although the Rapid Assessment of Stream Conditions Along Length (RASCAL) and Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) assessments (discussed in detail in Section 4) provided ample information on a watershed level, monitoring data can provide targeted information on a local level for priority areas to implement water quality projects. Currently, there is inadequate monitoring data available for the needs of this plan. This proves difficult to determine the origin of the pollutants and quantities present. More robust monitoring of these parameters is addressed in a later section.
Sediment loading and bacteria levels were prioritized as the primary pollutants in the Mud, Camp, and Spring Creek Watersheds because of the recreational contact concerns. Even though Mud, Camp, and Spring Creeks are not a drinking water source, there is still a pollutant concern due to human contact with the water.
Sources of sediment loading could be from any combination of streambank erosion and stormwater runoff from the surrounding rural and urban land uses. Excess amounts of sediment can cloud the stream and harm underwater organisms.
Sources of bacteria could be from any combination of pet waste, wildlife, agriculture, leaking or overflowing septic systems, and failing infrastructure. Bacteria levels can fluctuate greatly based on storm runoff, leaking sewage lines, the time of day, and the time of year. Elevated nutrients and water temperatures also have an effect on bacteria levels. Increased bacteria levels can cause health risks to anyone coming into contact with the water.
The next step would be to monitor the pollutants and determine mitigation actions from the results.
Phosphorous and nitrogen were set as secondary constituents of concern in the Mud, Camp, and Spring Creek Watersheds, since Mud, Camp, and Spring Creeks are not a drinking water source but high levels of these pollutants have a negative impact on the stream. These nutrients are essential for plant and animal growth and naturally abundant in the environment. Elevated nutrient levels can cause overstimulation of growth of plants and algae. Overgrowth can cause decrease dissolved oxygen in a stream, block light to deeper water, and clog water intakes. Both constituents are being considered for further monitoring and mitigation, if and when funding would be available.
The expected reduction of each pollutant is described in the Desired Outcome column under each goal of the Implementation Schedule in Appendix A. Several tasks have been identified as reducing sediment loading, bacteria, phosphorous, and nitrogen and are discussed in the Implementation Plan section.
A comprehensive stream assessment was completed by the PSWCD using the RASCAL tool, which is one way to gain firsthand knowledge of the existing conditions in a stream. This tool allows priority areas in the stream to be identified for targeted conservation practices. These practices would reduce pollutant loading by amending adjacent land use, restoring habitat, and stabilizing banks. Data was collected including observed gullies, exposed utilities, tile outfalls, and storm sewers. A GPS camera was frequently used to document these points of interest and keep track of stream conditions.
The stream assessment was broken down into each of the three watersheds, as shown in the figures below.
Each figure shows the portions of the stream that are stable or eroding and to what degree. All three watersheds show large portions of erosion and very few stable areas. The red areas, showing severe erosion, are the priority areas of concern. Section 6 discusses the implementation of the priority areas.
The PSWCD also conducted assessments on sediment delivery and RUSLE. These maps can be found in here (link to appendix f).