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Missouri Riverine GAP Analysis

Missouri is home to more species than almost any other state in the union. Our fragmented and highly varied topography has led to many, many small, isolated areas in which evolution occurred along slightly different paths, leading to small communities of unique species. How well are we doing at protecting this biodiversity?

One way to assess how well we are protecting our biodiversity is through a gap analysis. The National Gap Analysis Program of the United States Geological Service (USGS) is intended to improve conservation practices by using the following process: first construct a map detailing land cover. Second, construct a map showing the distribution of animal and plant species. Third, construct a map showing the location and conservation status of protected areas. Fourth, use this data to identify gaps where target ecosystems and species are inadequately covered by conservation efforts. It sounds simple, but the process of doing it is quite complex.

Figure 1: Missouri Ecological Drainage Systems and Aquatic Ecological System Types. Source: Sowa (2005).

Figure 1: Missouri Ecological Drainage Systems and Aquatic Ecological System Types. Source: Sowa (2005).

Gap analyses are sometimes made separately for types of ecosystems. A Gap Analysis for Riverine Ecosystems of Missouri was published in 2005 by the USGS (Sowa, 2005). It constructs a gap analysis for Missouri’s streams. The authors constructed an 8-level classification hierarchy that could be used to map Missouri’s streams across the dimensions above (land cover, distribution of species, location and status of protected areas). I’m not going to explain all of the details here, but I do want to illustrate how their analysis proceeded.

Missouri is generally divided into three great hydrologic subregions. In the bootheel is the Mississippi Alluvial Basin. The Central Plains region lies north of the Missouri River and also wraps southward along the border with Kansas. In between is the Ozarks Region. If you have travelled in these regions, perhaps it was obvious to you that the streams in each one are quite different in character from those in the others.

The authors divided these three regions into Ecological Drainage Units. There were 19, and they are shown in Figure 1, delineated by the heavy black lines. These were further divided into 39 Aquatic Ecological System Types (AES-Types). Each AES-Type represented one or more drainage areas containing a small or medium, river with a unique combination of physical habitat, water chemistry, energy sources, hydrologic regime, and community of plants and animals. In Figure 1, the grey lines delineate the AES drainage areas, and the color codes for the AES-Type. AES-Types don’t have to be contiguous, they can be physically separated so long as they contain the same characteristics.

Figure 2: Missouri Valley Segment Types. Source: Sowa 2005.

Figure 2: Missouri Valley Segment Types. Source: Sowa 2005.

The authors then divided the AES drainage areas into even smaller units called Valley Segment Types (VSTs). VSTs were small reaches of streams that had similar characteristics. They identified over 100 different VSTs, and assigned them to literally thousands of small stream segments throughout the state (Figure 2).

The hypothesis of the analysis was that in coarser grained analyses, AES-Type would determine the species of plants and animals found within it, and that VST would play the same role in a finer-grained analysis.

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These analyses were then combined with management information about each stream segment. This primarily represented factors that either harmed or endangered the ecological diversity of the stream segment, like human encroachment, agriculture, and mining, or factors that protected the diversity of stream segments, like inclusion in a national forest, state park, or conservation area.

Figure 3: Human Stress Index. Source: Sowa 2005.

Figure 3: Human Stress Index. Source: Sowa 2005.

The authors represented the degree to which human activities impaired stream diversity by constructing a Human Stress Index, and Figure 3 shows the Human Stress Index for each of the AES drainage areas in Missouri. The higher the index, the darker the red, and the higher the degree of human disturbance.

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Figure 4: Percentage of VSTs with Gap Status of 1 or 2. Source: Sowa 2005.

Figure 4: Percentage of VSTs with Gap Status of 1 or 2. Source: Sowa 2005.

The gap analysis used a scale of 1-4 to rate the relative degree to which biodiversity was protected in each AES-Type and VST, with “Status 1” being most protected and “Status 4” being least. Figure 4 shows the percentage of VSTs in each Ecological Drainage Unit that were rated Status 1 or 2. As you can see, most of the EDUs had very low percentages of VSTs rated 1 or 2. Only those deep in the Ozarks had percentages above 26.5%.

Well, it is a very detailed and complex analysis. Trying to summarize the results is a little confusing. But the bottom line is that in the Central Plains Region of the state (the area north of the Missouri River, and then wrapping south along the Kansas border), only 11.4% of the VST’s were rated Status 1 or 2, while in the Mississippi Alluvial Basin 20.9% were, and in the Ozarks Region, 28.3% were. Throughout most of Missouri, the vast majority of land has been sufficiently degraded that it no longer protects Missouri’s biodiversity. (I have many previous posts about Missouri’s biodiversity, invasive species, and protected lands. To find them, look in the “Land” category of posts.)

To some extent, this finding should be expected; one would not expect urban or agricultural land to support the complex biodiversity that undisturbed land does. But the report puts numbers to that impression, and the result is not encouraging.

There is a great deal of additional information in the report, but it is complex and very detailed, and this post is already long enough. Those who have particular interests in biodiversity in Missouri should look up the report.

Sources:

Sowa, S. P., D. D. Diamond, R. Abbitt, G. Annis, T. Gordon, M. E. Morey, G. R. Sorensen, and D. True. 2005. A Gap Analysis for Riverine Ecosystems of Missouri. Final Report, submitted to the USGS National Gap Analysis Program. Downloaded 6/23/2016 from https://morap.missouri.edu/index.php/aquatic-gap-pilot-project.

Missouri Monitors More of Its Lakes, Less of Its Streams, than the Nation as a Whole

An acquaintance who serves as a volunteer water quality monitor dropped by to regale me with stories of the many meetings and intense lobbying that occurred over the writing of the regulations that govern water quality monitoring in Missouri. These regulations determine what becomes a classified stream or lake (see the last 5 posts), and how they determine what beneficial uses each are used for. Classified streams and lakes come under water quality protections established by the federal government. Unclassified streams come under water quality protections established by the state, which may be significantly more lax.

According to my source, the Department of Conservation does most of the actual water quality monitoring, but it is the Department of Natural Resources that is responsible for preparing the biennial 503 report and submitting it to the EPA. The state was evidently under pressure from the EPA to tighten and improve what EPA regarded as inadequate water quality monitoring. In opposition were lobbying groups representing the farmers, utilities, and other interests.

I thought it might be useful to see whether Missouri was significantly out of step with the rest of the country in terms of the amount of its surface water that is assessed for quality, and in terms of the results of the assessments.

Figure 1. Data source: Environmental Protection Agency. Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 1. Data source: Environmental Protection Agency. Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 1 shows two charts. The top chart shows the percentage of classified stream miles that were assessed for quality in Missouri and in the USA as a whole in 2014. The chart shows that nationally, 31% of classified streams were assessed, while in Missouri only 9% were. Missouri is badly lagging behind on that one. The bottom chart shows the percentage of assessed stream miles that were assessed as impaired vs. unimpaired. Missouri’s data may be less accurate because so few miles are assessed, but of those that are assessed, results roughly parallel national results. In both cases, somewhat more than half of assessed stream miles are impaired.

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Figure 2. Data Source: Environmental Protection Agency. Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 2. Data Source: Environmental Protection Agency. Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 2 shows similar data for lake acres. Here, Missouri assessed a significantly higher percentage: 85% of lake acres vs. 44% for the USA as a whole. And only 27% of Missouri’s lake acres were impaired, whereas nationally a whopping 70% of lake acres were.

I wouldn’t run too far with this data. There is a lot of controversy over what constitutes clean water. For instance, if at a cove on a lake, the water tests clean 50 weeks of the year, but contaminated 2 weeks of the year, is it clean or impaired? A lot of dollars are on the line, and truth always becomes hard to find in such situations.

At first glance, it is heartening that Missouri assesses such a large percentage of its lakes, but then again, Truman Reservoir, Missouri’s largest lake, has 0.2% of the surface area of Lake Superior. You wouldn’t expect Minnesota to be monitoring the water quality way out in the middle of Lake Superior as intensively as you might expect Missouri to be monitoring the quality of its smaller lakes. Even Kentucky Lake and Lake Mead are 3 times Truman Reservoir’s size.

It is rather disheartening that Missouri assesses such a small percentage of its stream miles when other states seem to be able to do much better.

[Addition 6/19/16: The same acquaintance suggests to me an alternative explanation for why Missouri has surveyed a relatively high percentage of lake acres: Missouri has relatively little lake acreage to survey. All our large lakes are man-made reservoirs, and it may require less effort to survey such a small acreage of lakes. To check this out, I did some quick research on the Internet. Indeed, Missouri is below average in the total number of lake acres, coming in 32nd out of 50 states. This is unusual for such a large state as Missouri, and indeed, only about 1.4% of Missouri’s total area is water. This puts us 40th out of 50 in the fraction of our state that is surface water. Minnesota touts itself as “the land of 10,000 lakes.” Well, that is certainly not us here in Missouri. Perhaps my acquaintance is on to something. Thanks for the suggestion.]

Sources:

Environmental Protection Agency. National Summary of State Information. Data retrieved 5/28/16 from https://ofmpub.epa.gov/waters10/attains_nation_cy.control#STREAM/CREEK/RIVER.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2015. Missouri Integrated Water Quality Report and Section 303(d) List, 2014. Downloaded 4/20/2016 from http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/waterquality/303d/303d.htm.

List of Largest Lakes of the United States by Area. Wikipedia. Viewed online 5/28/16 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_lakes_of_the_United_States_by_area.

Impairment in Missouri’s Lakes, 2014

This is the 5th in a series of posts on the water quality of Missouri’s surface waters. This post focuses on impairment to Missouri’s lakes in 2014, and its causes (I’m using the word “impaired” for what the Missouri Department of Natural Resources calls “non-support”).

Impairment might mean that the water is unsafe, or it might not. For instance, too much bacteria or lead in the water would make the water unsafe. On the other hand, too much weedy material in the water can make water unpleasant to swim in, or it can give it an unpleasant taste, but it doesn’t necessarily make it unsafe.

Table 1. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Table 1. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

As noted in the first post of the series, Missouri’s lakes were used for a variety of purposes. Those that were impaired may not have been impaired for all uses, but for only some. Table 1, shows the number of classified lake acres in each use category, the number of acres assessed, and the number of miles impaired. In the table, Whole Body Contact Rec. – A (WBC-A) indicates designated or known swimming areas, Whole Body Contact Rec. – B (WBC-B) indicates areas other areas where recreational whole body contact with the water occurs.

The number of lake acres used varied from purpose to purpose. The most widespread uses were Aquatic Life & Fish Consumption and Livestock Watering. Relatively few miles were used for Industrial purposes or WBC-B. For some uses, only a very small fraction of miles were assessed: none of the lake acres used for Industrial or Livestock and Wildlife Watering were assessed, and only 18% of those used for Drinking Water Supply (public drinking water systems have to make their own, separate assessments of their water quality).

You have to use caution in using the data in the last two columns of the table. While only one use category shows any impairment at all, several of the use categories had no acres assessed. You can’t assess lake water as impaired if you don’t assess it at all. On the other hand, 82% of the lake acres used for WBC-A (swimming) were assessed, and none of them were impaired. I would tend to believe that if water is not impaired for WBC-A, then most likely it is not impaired for WBC-B, Industrial, or Livestock and Wildlife Watering.

Table 2. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Table 2. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Table 2 shows the problem causing the impairments. They are quite different from the causes of stream impairment. Five out of 7 are related to eutrophication. This is a fancy word that means the ability of the lake to support plant life – seaweed and especially algae. Too little, and the lake can’t support a population of fish and other marine life. Too much and the lake becomes choked with weeds or there is an algal bloom. Algal blooms use up all the oxygen, kill the fish, are sometimes toxic, and can turn a lake into a stinking mess. Lake Erie has had notorious algal blooms in the last 5 years that closed the lake to swimming and fishing, and made the water unsafe to drink.

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Table 3. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Table 3. Source data: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Table 3 shows the source of the problems causing the impairments. Of the sources of impairment that are known, Municipal Point Source was the largest, followed by Atmospheric Deposition. Municipal Point Source probably refers mostly to sewage treatment facilities that discharge incompletely treated sewage into lakes, while Atmospheric Deposition probably refers to mercury, which ultimately derives from coal burned in power plants.

There appears to be a disconnect between Tables 2 and 3, however. Of the causes of impairment, 3 are signs of eutrophication, not causes of it, and one is a heavy metal deposited from the atmosphere. The other 3, Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorous, and Pesticides (Atrazine) are all chemicals primarily used in agriculture. Total Nitrogen alone was the cause of impairment in 25,180 acres. However, Agriculture was listed as the source of impairment for only 133 acres, less than 1%. How chemicals primarily used in agriculture can be the cause of so much impairment, but agriculture the source of so little is beyond me.

In summary, the largest causes of impairment of Missouri lakes seem to be mercury originating in coal-burning power plants and then deposited by the atmosphere, and chemicals primarily used on farms. The source of most impairment either has not been studied or is unknown.

Sources:

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2015. Missouri Integrated Water Quality Report and Section 303(d) List, 2014. Downloaded 4/20/2016 from http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/waterquality/303d/303d.htm.

(A word about the availability of the Missouri Water Quality Reports. As of 5/1/2016, reports for 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 are available on the Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Website. Though the 2014 report is dated April 24, 2014, it was not available on the website until much later. The report for 2016 is not yet available, and may not be for many months.)

Wikipedia. 2016. Algal Bloom. Viewed online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algal_bloom.

Water Quality Trends in Missouri Lakes

This is the third post in a series about water quality trends in Missouri’s surface waters. The first post contained introductory material. The second post reported water quality trends in Missouri’s streams. This post looks at trends in the number of lake acres that have been assessed as supporting all intended uses vs. impaired. Missouri’s natural lakes are limited to oxbow lakes, sinkhole ponds, and open water areas in wetlands. The rest of Missouri’s lakes are man-made, ranging from small ponds to large reservoirs. This data looks only at lakes that are large enough to be “classified,” that is, qualify for protection under the federal Clean Water Act. The status of unclassified lakes is unknown.

Figure 1. Data source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 1. Data source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 1 shows the status of Missouri’s classified lakes. In the chart, the blue shows the number of lake acres that were fully supported. The red shows the number of acres that were impaired. The dark gray shows the number of acres that were not assessed, but which the Department did not suspect to be impaired. The light gray shows the number of acres that were not assessed, but which the Department suspected were impaired. In some years the Department listed how many acres were not assessed, but did not say whether they were suspected to be fully supported or impaired. Those miles are shown with a hatched pattern.

(Click on chart for larger view.)

In looking at the chart, the first thing that jumps out is that the number of classified lake acres has not varied over the years to the same degree as has the number of stream miles.

Second, the Department seems to be assessing a much larger percentage of classified lakes than streams. In all years but 1, over 85% of classified lake acres were assessed.

Third, the percentage of classified lake acres assessed to be fully supported is higher than for stream miles. Across the time period, an average 67% of acres were supported for all intended uses.

Fourth, despite the generally higher level of support, the situation varied greatly across the years, from a high of 93% assessed support in 2006 to a low of 41% assessed support in 2010. In each of the three most recent reports, more than 33% of acres were assessed to be impaired for at least one use. This may be somewhat misleading, however, because in those years the Department assessed a lower percentage of lake acres than in other years.

Fifth, if one assumes that the Department’s guesses about unassessed lake acres are correct, and adds to the fully supported miles the miles for which non-support is not suspected, then the percentage of streams that are supported for all intended uses would range from 50% to 93%.

Figure 2. Data source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Figure 2. Data source: Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2015.

Counting only lake acres that were assessed, Figure 2 shows the percentages that were fully supported vs. impaired. The blue represents acres that were fully supported for all uses, the red those that were impaired for one or more uses. The chart shows that in only 2 years, 2006 and 2008, were a very high percentage of acres supported for all uses. In every other year, more than 25% were impaired, and in one year, 2010, 54% were impaired.

I don’t know why the number of impaired lake acres increased so much in 2010. It would make a great research project for a college student. If anybody knows the answer, please let us all know by posting a comment.

The reasons Missouri surface waters may be impaired can vary. Some reasons may be related to human causes, others to the nature of the terrain where the water body is located. I will look at the causes of impairment in 2014 in the next post.

Source

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2015. Missouri Integrated Water Quality Report and Section 303(d) List, 2014. Downloaded 4/20/2016 from http://dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/waterquality/303d/303d.htm.

(A word about the availability of the Missouri Water Quality Reports. As of 5/1/2016, reports for 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 are available on the Department of Natural Resources, Water Protection Website. Though the 2014 report is dated April 24, 2014, it was not available on the website until much later. The report for 2016 is not yet available, and may not be for many months.)

2015 Census of Public Water Systems

Each year the Missouri Department of Natural Resources publishes the Census of Missouri Public Water Systems. I reported on the 2013 census here, and the 2014 census here. This post updates the information for 2015.

Public Water Census 2015The census provides basic information about the number and type of public water systems in the state, plus information on each system that includes the source of its water, the type of treatment it gives the water, and a chemical analysis of the water that covers 16 inorganic chemicals. The table at right shows the summary data for 2013-2015.

A primary water system is one that obtains water from a well, infiltration gallery, lake, reservoir, river, spring, or stream. A secondary water system is one that obtains its water from an approved water system, and distributes it to consumers. (Missouri 10 CSR 60-2015, Definitions) About 78% of Missouri public water systems are primary systems, and they serve about 77% of the population.

The EPA defines a public water system as one that provides water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or that serves an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year. It classifies public water systems in three categories. Community Water Systems (CWS) supply water to the same population year-round. Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems (NTNCWS) supplies water to at least 25 of the same people at least 6 months per year, but not year-round. An example might be a school that has its own water system. A Transient Non-Community Water System (TNCWS) provides water in a place where people do not remain for long periods of time. Examples might include gas stations or campgrounds that have their own water systems.

There were 2,722 public water systems in Missouri. The number of community systems in Missouri increased by one in 2014, then decreased by 14 in 2015. NTNCWS systems decreased by 3 in 2014, then increased by 5 in 2015. TNCWS systems decreased by 20 in 2014, then increased by 15 in 2015.

Groundwater means groundwater that is not directly influenced by the surface water above it. The groundwater is isolated from surface groundwater by thick layers of rock or sediment that filter the ground water before it reaches the groundwater aquifer. Groundwater Under Direct Influence refers to groundwater that is not protected from the surface water above it, and which consequently contains groundwater contaminants, such as insects, microorganisms, algae, or turbidity. This kind of water and surface water, require more extensive treatment before they are fit for use.

In 2015 there were 217 surface water systems (about 15% of all systems), but they served a population of 3,534,956 (about 64% of Missouri’s population). There were 1,210 groundwater systems (about 84% of all systems), and they served 1,980,271 (about 36% of the population). Between 2014 and 2015 the number of surface water systems increased by one, and they served 174,734 more people. The number of groundwater systems decreased by 15, and they served 2,607 more people.

Most of the water systems in Missouri source their water from groundwater, only a few from ground water under direct influence. However, the source serving the largest population is surface water. Specifically, the Missouri River is the water source for much of the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas. More than half of Missouri’s population is served by water either from the Missouri River Alluvial Aquifer or water from the river itself.

Source:

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2015. Census of Missouri Public Water Systems, 2015. http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs. This URL will take you to a long list of publications available from MoDNR. Scroll down to Public Drinking Water to find the census reports.

Coliform Problems Are the Most Common Public Water System Violation

In the previous post, I reported that there were more than 4,700 public water supply systems in Missouri, and that 95.7% of the population received water from suppliers that had no violations of safe drinking water standards during the year (an increase from 93.8% in 2011).

This means that 4.3% of the population was served by systems that did have a violation (down from 6.2% in 2011). As Missouri’s population in 2012 was 6,024,522, that means that 259,054 people were served water systems that had a violation during the year. This post looks into the nature of the violations.

Two years, 2007 and 2010, had an increase in the population affected by a violation. The cause in 2007 was an error in backwashing a filter at the Missouri American Water Company South Plant in St. Louis County. The error caused a spike in turbidity that lasted four minutes. During that time the water reached an estimated 24,578 customers, though no reports of illness were associated with this event. Even though only some customers were affected, federal documentation rules require that the entire service population be reported as exposed. In 2010, “the same phenomenon happened again.” (2012 Annual Compliance Report of Missouri Public Drinking Water, p. 4)

A violation does not indicate that public health was affected, but it creates the potential for a public health impact to occur. For this reason, violations are important administrative markers. The DNR monitors two broad kinds of violations. Water contaminants (chemicals and bacteria) can exceed their respective maximum concentration levels (health-based standards), or a water system can fail to meet adequate administrative standards (most often not performing and reporting the testing required by law).

Violations 2012The graph at right shows the percentage of the population served by community water systems that had different types of health-based violations during the year. The most common violation in 2012 had to do with coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria are a class of many microorganisms that are widespread in the environment. Most do not represent a hazard to human health. However, either the presence of E. Coli, a specific type of coliform bacteria, or of fecal coliform bacteria is a sign the water may have become contaminated with fecal material, which is hazardous to human health. Thus, the presence of either is a violation, and it results in a boil order. All water systems in Missouri are required to test for E. Coli and coliform bacteria, and most violations result from improper testing and/or reporting. However, nineteen water systems in Missouri (less than 1%) received boil orders in 2012, a decrease from 32 in 2011. Most lasted for a few days up to two weeks. But two lasted more than 5 months), and one lasted 10-1/2 months. See the report for details.

Seventeen systems (down from 21 water systems in 2011) had chemical violations, all but one for trihalomethanes. These are water treatment byproducts. They form if disinfectants used to treat the water (chlorine, bromine) react with matter that may be present in the water (e.g. decaying vegetation).

Fourteen systems (down from 16 water systems in 2011) had violations involving excess radiological contaminants. Last year I reported that this problem had to do mostly with radon, but that was an error. In both the 2011 and 2012 reports, the problem mostly had to do with the level of combined radium.

As noted above, some of violations can be quite brief, and the threat they represent to public health can be small. However, some systems experience repeated violations, and then the threat to public health increases. The DNR focuses its efforts on water systems that have a history of repeated contamination, and especially on those with a history of suspected contamination and a history of inadequate testing.

Thirty-one water systems (down from 44 water systems in 2011) were listed as having had three or more major coliform violations and chronic monitoring violations. Many of them received repeated citations. They are listed in Appendix B of the report. In addition, 30 water systems ( down from 34 in 2011) were listed as having repeat monitoring violations. They are listed in Appendix C of the report.

Sources:

2012 Annual Compliance Report of Missouri Public Drinking Water, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Pub. 2449, http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/fyreports.

Information regarding the violations in 2007, 2010, and 2011 was taken from the 2007, 2010, and 2011 versions of the report, available at the same web address.

Information on trihalomethanes from: Disinfection Byproducts: A Reference Resource, EPA, http://www.epa.gov/envirofw/html/icr/gloss_dbp.html.

Information on coliform bacteria: 5.11 Fecal Bacteria: What Are Fecal Bacteria and Why Are They Important, EPA, http://water.epa.gov/type/rsl/monitoring/vms511.cfm.

Population data from U.S. Census Bureau. State & County QuickFacts, Missouri. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/29000.html. Viewed 6/2/2013.

Missouri Public Water Systems Show Small Improvement

There are more than 2,700 public water systems in Missouri. Federal and state laws require public water systems to monitor and test the quality of the water they provide to customers. Summary results are published annually by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and detailed reports are published by individual water systems. I reported on the 2011 Annual Compliance Report of Missouri Public Drinking Water here. This post updates the information for 2012, the most recent report available.

A public water system is one that provides water to at least 15 service connections, or to an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days each year. Community Systems (CWS) supply water to the same population year-round. Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems (NTNCWS) supplies water to at least 25 of the same people at least 6 months per year, but not year-round. An example might be a school that has its own water system. A Transient Non-Community Water System (TNCWS) provides water in a place where people do not remain for long periods of time. Examples might include gas stations or campgrounds that have their own water systems.

The amount of treatment that water must receive differs depending on the source of the water. Surface water and underground water under the direct influence of surface water are more vulnerable to contamination, so they receive more treatment. Underground water from aquifers not under the direct influence of surface water tend to contain water that is heavily filtered by the rock through which it seeps. Sometimes, the seepage is so slow that the water is old, predating most forms of modern contamination.

Drinking Water Trends, 2012The top graph at right shows the percentage of community water systems that meet all health-based requirements by year. The bottom graph shows the number of violations involving E. Coli or acute coliform levels. Non-compliance can result from many factors, from broken pipes, to human error, to systems that are inadequate in the first place. But 95.7% of the population was served by water systems that had no violations during the year. Ninety-five percent is the EPA goal.

Sources:

2012 Annual Compliance Report of Missouri Public Drinking Water, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/fyreports/.

Information regarding the violations in 2007 and 2010 was taken from the 2007 and 2010 versions of the report, available at the same web address.

Information on trihalomethanes from: Disinfection Byproducts: A Reference Resource, EPA, http://www.epa.gov/envirofw/html/icr/gloss_dbp.html.

Information on coliform bacteria: 5.11 Fecal Bacteria: What Are Fecal Bacteria and Why Are They Important, EPA, http://water.epa.gov/type/rsl/monitoring/vms511.cfm.

Updated Census of Public Water Systems

Each year the Missouri Department of Natural Resources publishes the Census of Missouri Public Water Systems. I reported on the 2013 census here. This post updates the information for 2014.

Water System Census Summary 2013-2014The census provides basic information about the number and type of public water systems in the state, plus information on each system that includes the source of its water, the type of treatment it gives the water, and a chemical analysis of the water that covers 16 inorganic chemicals. The table at right shows the summary data.

The EPA defines a public water system as one that provides water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or that serves an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year. It classifies public water systems in three categories. Community Water Systems (CWS) supply water to the same population year-round. Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems (NTNCWS) supply water to at least 25 of the same people at least 6 months per year, but not year-round. An example might be a school that has its own water system. A Transient Non-Community Water System (TNCWS) provides water in a place where people do not remain for long periods of time. Examples might include gas stations or campgrounds that have their own water systems.

The number of community systems in Missouri increased by 1, while the number of non-community systems decreased by 23.

Groundwater means groundwater that is not directly influenced by the surface water above it. The groundwater is isolated from surface groundwater by thick layers of rock or sediment that filter the ground water before it reaches the groundwater aquifer. Groundwater Under Direct Influence refers to groundwater that is not protected from the surface water above it, and which consequently contains contaminants, such as insects, microorganisms, algae, or turbidity. This kind of water requires more extensive treatment before it is fit for use.

The number of groundwater systems decreased by 3, but they served 7,533 more people. The number of surface water systems decreased by one, and they served 1,067 fewer people.

Most of the water systems in Missouri source their water from groundwater, only a few from ground water under direct influence. However, the source serving the larges population is surface water. The Missouri River is the water source for much of the Kansas City, while the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are the primary sources for the St. Louis metropolitan area. More than half of Missouri’s population is served by water either from the Missouri River or from its alluvial aquifer.

Source:

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2014. Census of Missouri Public Water Systems, 2014. http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/census.htm.

List of Aquatic Nuisance Species

In a previous post I discussed aquatic nuisance species and some of the damages they cause. In 2007, the Missouri Department of Conservation developed its Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. The plan identified 12 nuisance species already present in Missouri, and fourteen more poised to enter the state.

The list is presented below. Information about these species and other problem species identified by the Missouri Department of Conservation can be found on the Department’s website: MDC Home Page » Discover Nature – Field Guide » Invasive Species.

Common Name Scientific Name Comments
AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES (ANS) CURRENTLY FOUND IN MISSOURI
Plants
Dotted duckweed Landoltia punctata Currently found in the St. Louis area and in southeast and western Missouri
Eurasian watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum Widespread. May be eliminated from existing habitats with great difficulty
Brittle naiad Naias minor Common in ponds and lakes statewide.
Purple loostrife Lythrum salicaria Common in north Missouri and the Missouri River valley
Mussels
Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha Currently limited to Lake of the Ozarks, Taneycomo and the Missouri and Mississippi rivers
Mollusks
Asian clam Corbicula fluminia Common throughout Missouri. Low feasibility for eliminating from existing habitats
Crustaceans
Water flea Daphnia lumholtzi Common in large lakes
Fish
Common carp Cyprinus carpio Widespread. May damage aquatic habitats when present in large numbers
Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Common in most large rivers. May compete with native species. Jumps and may injure boaters and water skiers
Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella Common throughout Missouri. Can be difficult to manage in ponds and lakes without eliminating aquatic vegetation
Bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis Common in most large rivers
White perch Morono americana Found in Missouri and Mississippi rivers and tributaries in low numbers. Becomes overabundant in oxbows and could pose a threat to some resident fish communities if introduced. May invade large reservoirs
AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES (ANS) LIKELY TO ENTER MISSOURI
Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes Must develop cold water tolerance to survive in Missouri
Hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata Found in Arkansas and Tennessee
New Zealand mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum Likely import via boots, waders, boats, etc.
Quagga Mussel Dreissena burgensis Only one (1) individual found in Mississippi River in 2002
Rusty crayfish Orconectes rusticus Introduction to the wild via bait buckets is very likely
Northern Channa argus Possible introduction to the wild via aquarium releases
Black carp Mylopharyngodon piceus Predator on mussels and mollusks. May already exist in Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their large tributaries
Ruffe Gymnocephalus cemuus Invasion via Great Lakes and Illinois River possible
Round goby Neogobius melanostomus Invasion from Great Lakes via the Illinois River is possible
Didymo Didymosphenia geminata Invasion from Arkansas waters is likely
Spiny water fkea Bythotrephes ederstroemi Introduction by water or wild caught bait transfer from Great Lakes is possible
Fishhook water flee Cercopagis pengoi Introduction by water or wild caught bait transfer from Great Lakes is possible
Whirling disease Myxobolus cerebralis Introduction by live salmonids transferred from the west or by contaminated gear is likely
VHS Novirhabdovirus sp. Water, bait, and fish transfers are likely to introduce VHS from the Great Lakes states

Source:

Missouri Department of Conservation Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. (2007).  ANS Task Force Home Page » Documents » State and Regional Plans » Missouri Department of Conservation Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. http://www.anstaskforce.gov/State%20Plans/MO_ANS_Management_Plan.pdf.

Unwelcome Aquatic Species Invade Missouri

Invasive species, non-native species, nuisance species: Missouri has them all.

"Green Stream." Uploaded fromf Wikimedia Commons. Original photo by Liz West on Flickr.

“Green Stream.” Uploaded fromf Wikimedia Commons. Original photo by Liz West on Flickr.

In an earlier post, I discussed a study that identified invasive species in Missouri’s forests. Three were most common: multiflora rose and two species of honeysuckle. But invasive species can live anywhere, and aquatic invasive species are of particular concern. In 2007, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) prepared the state’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. The plan identifies the aquatic nuisance species that represent the largest existing threats to Missouri’s water resources.

Aquatic invasive species represent an ecological threat and an economic threat. Ecologically, they kill other species that the ecosystem depends on. They form dense monocultures that obstruct waterways, completely cover all available habitat, and provide habitat for noxious pests to breed. For instance, the first photo at right shows purple loosetrife. It appears so beautiful, but it forms dense mats along waterways that provide no habitat for fish, birds, or animals. The mats crowd out all other species and serve as breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes.

(Click on photos for larger view.)

zebramusselsThe second photo at right shows zebra mussels colonizing a native mussel. The third photo at right shows them encrusting a piece of equipment. They kill native species, foul equipment, and completely plug water intake pipes, shutting down power plants and industrial operations. They are sharp and cause cuts, requiring the use of protective gear to swim or wade, destroying the recreational value of the lakes and rivers they invade.

Nationally, the annual damage and cost to control non-native species was estimated at $138 billion in 2000. Missouri has about 1.83% of the land area of the United States. Multiplying $138 billion by 1.83% yields an estimate that non-native species cause about $2.53 billion in damages in Missouri each year.

Zebra Mussel DamageEven such a small thing as fishing grounds ruined by invasive species are not only ecological and recreational losses, they are economic losses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that Missouri fishing-related activities accounted for $657 million in 2011 – $374 million of it for trip-related expenses, and $282 million of it for equipment, licenses, and other expenses.

Twelve aquatic nuisance species could already be found in Missouri waters, according to the report, and an additional 14 threatened to arrive in the near future. I will give the list in my next post.

Source:

Missouri Department of Conservation Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. (2007). ANS Task Force Home Page » Documents » State and Regional Plans » Missouri Department of Conservation Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan. http://www.anstaskforce.gov/State%20Plans/MO_ANS_Management_Plan.pdf.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/fhw11-mo.pdf.

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