Prairie Rivers of Iowa, along with our partners Story County Conservation and City of Ames, have installed two water quality monitor units in the South Skunk River Watershed.
- Squaw Creek at Lincoln Way in Ames
- East Indian Creek at S27 north of Maxwell
These two monitors are installed from April/May-October every year and will automatically take samples twice per month, as well as during periods of higher flows (after rain events). As part of our educational efforts, the data is available to you on this website (below).
Want to learn more about the components of water we are monitoring? Click to view our handout here.
2017 Data: Live monitoring data can be found here.
2016 Data: Monitoring data can be found here.
A technical report has been created by Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. from the first year’s monitoring results – click here to see the report. Some highlights of the report are:
Nitrate levels for both Squaw Creek and East Indian Creek were very high.
In at least 75% of samples, we measured nitrate levels outside the EPA recommended criteria range. Iowa has not set numeric criteria for nutrients, so we used these numbers—based on the EPA’s analysis of nutrient levels in relatively unpolluted streams in the corn belt region—as a benchmark.
Phosphorus levels jumped above EPA recommended criteria range following storm events in July and September.
Together with total suspended solids data, this tells us that most of the phosphorus entering the creek is bound to soil particles, delivered when heavy rains cause erosion.
For water bodies that support swimming, canoeing, and other full contact recreation, Iowa has set an E.coli criteria of 126 organisms per 100 mL to assess whether there is contamination from human or animal waste that might pose a health risk if accidentally swallowed.
Bacteria concentrations in both streams were consistently ten times higher than the Iowa standard.
During the recreational season of April to October, concentrations in East Indian Creek averaged 1,283 organisms/100mL. The geometric mean for Squaw Creek during this period was 1,464 organisms/100mL.
This year’s data will help establish a baseline for the annual nutrient loads delivered to downstream waters.
We will continue to refine our estimates of nutrient loading as we improve our measurements of flows in East Indian Creek and measurements of phosphorus during baseflow.