Circular 1210--Water Quality in the Eastern Iowa Basins, Iowa and Minnesota, 1996–98
Cover for circular 1210

Water Quality in the Eastern Iowa Basins, Iowa and Minnesota, 1996–98

Water Resources Circular 1210

By Stephen J. Kalkhoff, Kimberlee K. Barnes, Kent D. Becher, Mark E. Savoca, Douglas J. Schnoebelen, Eric M. Sadorf, Stephen D. Porter, and Daniel J. Sullivan

 

 


The full report is available in pdf.  Links to the pdf.

CONTENTS

NATIONAL WATER-QUALITY ASSESSMENT PROGRAM

SUMMARY OF MAJOR FINDINGS

Stream and River Highlights

Ground-Water Highlights

INTRODUCTION TO THE EASTERN IOWA BASINS

MAJOR FINDINGS

Nutrients in Ground Water and Streams

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Nutrient concentrations in streams were among the highest in the Nation

Animal Feeding Operations contribute additional nutrients to stream

Pesticides in Ground Water and Streams

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Pesticide concentrations rank higher in ground water
than in streams and rivers

What is a Pesticide Degradate?

Multiple pesticide compounds occur more frequently in streams than in
ground water

Other Organic Compounds

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—MTBE detection rates are similar to the average detection rate in the Nation

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Biological communities in streams consist of organisms that are moderately to highly tolerant of environmental degradation

Riparian buffer zones influence the quality of Midwestern streams and rivers

STUDY UNIT DESIGN

GLOSSARY

REFERENCES

APPENDIX—WATER-QUALITY DATA FROM THE EASTERN IOWA BASINS IN A NATIONAL CONTEXT .

SUMMARY OF MAJOR FINDINGS

Map of the Eastern Iowa Basins Study Unit The Eastern Iowa Basins Study Unit encompasses the Wapsipinicon, the Cedar, the Iowa, and the Skunk River Basins and covers about 19,500 mi2 in eastern Iowa and southern Minnesota. In 1990, about 40 percent of the more than 1 million people in the Study Unit were concentrated in cities with populations of greater than 20,000 people. Cedar Rapids is the only city with a population greater than 100,000. Ground water is the major source for municipal, industrial, and domestic supplies. During the study, Iowa City was the largest municipal user of surface water. Over 90 percent of the land in the Study Unit is used for agricultural purposes. Forested areas account for only 4 percent of the land. Data from Eros Data Center, 1994.

Stream and River Highlights

Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in streams in the Eastern Iowa Basins Study Unit rank as some of the highest in the Corn Belt (see map, p. 8) as well as the Nation and were higher than the drinking-water standard in many samples. These conditions reflect intensive use of the land for growing crops and dense populations of livestock in some basins.

Graph showing indicators of stream-water quality


Major influences on streams and rivers

  • Agricultural storm runoff
  • Animal feeding operations
  • Tile-line drainage
  • Urban areas

Ground-Water Highlights

Compared to surface water, ground water in the Eastern Iowa Basins had substantially lower nutrient concentrations and less frequent detections. Land use, however, had a substantial effect on the quality of water in alluvial aquifers. Pesticide degradates were some of the most commonly detected constituents in these aquifers. Nitrate and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) exceeded the USEPA standard or advisory in some of the samples. In contrast, bedrock aquifers, which are generally protected by clay and shale layers, typically had low nitrate concentrations and low frequency of pesticide detections.

Major influences on ground water

  • Lawn, garden, and agricultural fertilizers
  • Agricultural and urban pesticides
  • Leaking underground fuel-storage tanks

     

 

 

Graph showing selected indicators of ground-water quality


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POINTS OF CONTACT AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The companion Web site for NAWQA summary reports:

http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/

Eastern Iowa Basins contact and Web site:
USGS State Representative
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Division PO Box 1230
400 South Clinton St., Rm 269
Iowa City, IA 52244
e-mail:dc_ia@usgs.gov
/nawqa.html
National NAWQA Program:
Chief, NAWQA Program
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Division
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M.S. 413
Reston, VA 20192
http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/

Free on application to the
U.S. Geological Survey
Information Services
Box 25286 Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225
Or call: 1-888-ASK-USGS


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Last update: 11:30:15 Thu 10 May 2001
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