- The Plan
- 1 Watershed Community Initiative
- 2-1 Watershed Inventory
- 2-2 Subwatershed Summary
- 2-3 Subwatershed Summary and Rankings
- 3 Identify Problems
- 4 Identify Causes, Sources and Load Reductions
- 5 Set Goals and Identify Critical Areas
- 6 – Measures/BMPs to Apply
- Section 7 – Action Register and Schedule
- Section 8 – Tracking Effectiveness Evaluating Plan Performance
The Watershed Inventory is a comprehensive inventory that quantifies, describes, and summarizes all available watershed data. This inventory will be used to determine the current conditions of the watershed and identify the link between the stakeholder concerns and those watershed conditions.
Part One of the Watershed Inventory focuses on the data at a watershed-wide scale and includes broad topics not easily summarized at the subwatershed scale. Part Two of the Watershed Inventory provides detailed water quality data gathered at the subwatershed scale. And Part Three of the Watershed Inventory summarizes and explains the relationships of the data gathered in parts one and two.
Part One of the Watershed Inventory
A healthy watershed is essential for a healthy environment and economy. The watersheds we live in provide us with drinking water, jobs, recreation, food and shelter. Watersheds are a unique, dynamic complex combination of natural resources; air, water, soil, plants and animals. Each characteristic of a watershed plays a role in the overall health of a watershed. How these characteristics interact with each other can not only negatively impact certain characteristics within the watershed but can also impact the watershed itself.
For example, sandy soils allow the ground to soak up water faster. This reduces surface runoff, but can affect ground water. Clay soils, on the other hand, are tighter and do not allow as much water infiltration. This can lead to more runoff and soil erosion. Similarly, wetlands utilize nutrients and tie up sediment to help improve water quality. Wetlands also act as natural sponges to absorb peak flows of water and reduce flooding. Many fish and wildlife species rely on wetlands for rearing their young, and for food and shelter. The combination of population centers and septic tank unsuitable soils may be a source of an E.coli problem. These are some of the ways that watershed characteristics are related to each other.
Location, Characteristics and Size
Upper Fall Creek (HUC 0512020108) has its origins in northwest Henry County and flows southwest through Madison, Hamilton, and Marion Counties (Exhibit 1). The watershed also encompasses portions of Delaware and Hancock Counties. The Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed consists of approximately 140,194 acres of mixed land use of which approximately 1,900 acres is Geist Reservoir. The distribution of watershed area within each county is shown in Table 1.
Insert Exhibit 1
|Table 1: Counties Within the Watershed|
Approximately 140.5 linear miles of cumulative waterways are contained in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. Some of the cities and towns located in the watershed include: Middletown, Anderson, Markleville, Pendleton, Ingalls, Fortville, McCordsville, Lawrence, Fishers, and Indianapolis.
The bedrock geology of Indiana formed primarily during the Paleozoic Era. The principal bedrock formations in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed are associated mainly with rocks of Silurian and Devonian age, and consist mainly of limestone and dolomites with some shale or argillaceous zones, whereas the Silurian material consists of limestone, dolomite, and much more argillaceous material than in the Devonian age rock.
The topography of Upper Fall Creek, which lies in the Tipton Till Plain physiographic unit, consists of a flat to slightly rolling plain. Streams tend to have very low gradients, and lie only a few feet below the general land surface. Extensive alteration of the drainage system has occurred via ditching and the installation of drainage tiles. This has resulted in excellent land for agricultural production. Some rolling and hummocky areas may be present and are related to glacial activity. The gradient throughout the watershed ranges from an elevation of 1090 feet at the eastern edge of the watershed in Henry County to an elevation of 785 feet at the spillway of Geist Reservoir in Marion County, or a change of 305 feet.
The Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed is within a humid continental climate region. The humid continental climate is marked by variable weather patterns and a large seasonal variance. Summers are often warm and humid with frequent thunderstorms and winters can be very cold with frequent snowfall and persistent snow cover.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center publishes the normals of average monthly and annual maximum, minimum, and mean temperature, monthly and annual total precipitation (inches), and heating and cooling degree days (base 65 degrees F) for individual locations throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Pacific Islands.
The monthly precipitation and temperature normals were obtained for Indiana for the time period of 1971 – 2000. Out of the 113 climate stations within Indiana, none fall within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed, however one is located immediately downstream of the watershed. Table 2 summarizes the temperature and precipitation data for the Oaklandon Geist Reservoir station.
|Table 2: NOAA Monthly Normals for Oaklandon Geist Reservoir, 1971- 2000|
|Month||Average Temperature (oF)||Average Precipitation (in.)|
Construction of Geist Reservoir was completed in 1944. The primary purpose of the reservoir was to provide a consistent source of water supply to the Indianapolis Water Company’s Fall Creek Water Treatment Facility. In the early 1980’s real estate development began around the reservoir, resulting in development along most of its 35 miles of shoreline. The reservoir has a maximum depth of approximately 48 feet, a storage capacity of 6.9 billion gallons, and a surface area of approximately 1,900 acres. In addition to water supply, Geist Reservoir is currently widely used for recreation purposes including swimming, boating, and fishing (Exhibit 1).
Geist Reservoir is characterized as a shallow turbid water body and has an average depth of 11 feet. Geist Reservoir is elongated with many branches representing the tributaries of the former stream or river. Geist Reservoir is a popular recreational lake due to its size and fishing opportunities. The majority of Geist Reservoir’s shoreline is developed with a concrete, sheet pile seawall, or rock wall utilized for shoreline protection. Geist Reservoir is a man made water body, as it was formed by an impoundment of Fall Creek, and as such has upland soils that are not typically found as lake bottom substrates which also impacts the ability of aquatic vegetation to establish.
Geist Reservoir is rated as mesotrophic by IDEM. Mesotrophic lakes are lakes with an intermediate level of productivity, greater than oligotrophic lakes, but less than eutrophic lakes. These lakes are commonly clear water lakes and ponds with beds of submerged aquatic plants and medium levels of nutrients.
Based on information provided in previous studies (US EPA) for Geist Reservoir, the volume within the reservoir is completely replaced by the input volume (surface water, groundwater, direct precipitation, etc.) every 58 days. Therefore, meaning the hydraulic retention time for the direct tributary area to the watershed is 58 days. Based on the size of the reservoir and tributary area, this is somewhat of a short retention time which ultimately suggests that the reservoir will respond in a short time after implementation of upstream BMPs for pollutant reduction.
Wetlands are a valuable resource not only for the habitat they create but for the water detention/retention and filtration they provide within a watershed. Wetland classifications are based on attributes which can be measured and when combined, help to define the nature of a specific wetland and distinguish it from others. According to the National Wetland Inventory, the three wetland classifications within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed include lacustrine, palustrine, and riverine. There are 5,018 acres (3.6% of the watershed) of wetlands scattered throughout the watershed. Among the three wetland classifications, 1,690 acres are considered lacustrine, 3,325 acres are palustrine, and 3 acres are riverine (Exhibit 2).
As defined by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, lacustrine wetlands are associated with lakes and are characterized by a lack of trees and a dominance of emergent and submersed aquatic vegetation. Lacustrine wetlands typically extend from the shoreline to depths of 6.5 feet or until emergent vegetation no longer persists. Lacustrine wetlands are important in removing sediment and nutrients as well as providing habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates which are a vital food source within a lake ecosystem. The Lacustrine System includes wetlands and deepwater habitats with all of the following characteristics: (1) situated in a topographic depression or a dammed river channel; (2) lacking trees, shrubs, persistent emergents, emergent mosses or lichens with greater than 30% areal coverage; and (3) total area exceeds 20 acres. Similar wetland and deepwater habitats totaling less than 20 acres are also included in the Lacustrine System if an active wave-formed or bedrock shoreline feature makes up all or part of the boundary, or if the water depth in the deepest part of the basin exceeds 6.6 feet at low water.
Palustrine wetlands are related to marshes, swamps and bogs. Palustrine habitats are wetlands dominated by trees, shrubs, persistent emergents, and emergent mosses or lichens. Palustrine habitats have structural features that provide feeding, breeding, nesting, over wintering and migration habitat for wildlife in addition to their natural filtration properties. Riverine wetlands occur in floodplains and riparian corridors in association with stream channels. Riverine wetlands are directly affected by streamflow including overbank and backwater conditions. Riverine wetlands are very important in sediment retention as well as pollutant removal.
Wetlands provide numerous valuable functions that are necessary for the health of a watershed. They play a critical role in protecting and moderating water quality. Water quality is improved through a combination of filtering and stabilizing processes. Wetland vegetation adjacent to waterways helps to stabilize slopes and prevent mass wasting, thus reducing the sediment load within the river system. An unprotected streambank can easily erode, which results in an increase of sediment and nutrients entering the water. Additionally, wetland vegetation removes pollutants through the natural filtration that occurs, or by absorption and assimilation. This effective treatment of nutrients and physical stabilization leads to an increase in overall water quality to downstream reaches.
Insert Exhibit 2
In addition, wetlands have the ability to increase storm water detention capacity, increase storm water attenuation, and moderate low flows. These benefits help to reduce flooding and reduce erosion. Wetlands also facilitate groundwater recharge by allowing water to seep slowly into the ground, thus replenishing underlying aquifers. This groundwater recharge is also valuable to wildlife during the summer months when precipitation is low and the base flow of the river draws on the surrounding groundwater table.
Although wetlands occupy a small percentage of the surrounding landscape, these areas typically contain large percentages of wildlife and produce more flora and fauna per acre than any other ecosystem. As a result of this high diversity, wetlands provide many recreational opportunities, such as fishing, hunting, boating, hiking and bird watching. Many of these recreational activities are available in the wetland areas within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. However, wetlands within this watershed have experienced degradation as a result of urbanization and development. Development projects that have wetlands present or adjacent to the property are applying for and receiving Section 404 of the Clean Water Act permits to fill and develop wetlands. This practice reduces the amount of wetland acreage in the watershed.
Isolated and adjacent wetlands are regulated through IDEM and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), respectively. Although wetlands are typically avoided during the development phase, permits have been given to fill wetlands that cannot be avoided. Some isolated wetlands are being converted to detention/retention basins in new residential developments. Some development and agency permits require on-site mitigation, which includes the creation of wetlands and natural areas on the same piece of land where wetland impacts occur. Some development projects that impact wetlands are allowed to mitigate for wetland impacts at an approved off-site wetland mitigation bank facility. In this case, the wetland impacts are offset through the purchase of wetland mitigation credits at an approved wetland mitigation bank. For Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) projects, in general the Federal and State requirement is to mitigate for impacts to wetlands associated with roadway improvements within the same watershed. Stream enhancement and stream mitigation are some of the options that INDOT utilizes to offset wetland/stream impacts.
Threatened or Endangered Species
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Nature Preserves was contacted to provide any Indiana Natural Heritage Data or related records for all listed threatened, endangered (T&E) or rare species documented within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. Their response indicated that the watershed is home to a number of Species of Special Concern to Indiana, a number of State Endangered Species, and a number of Federally Endangered Species (Table 3).
|Table 3: Threatened or Endangered Species|
|Type||Common Name||State Status||Federal Status|
|Red-shouldered Hawk||Species of Special Concern|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Endangered|
|Mammal||American Badger||Species of Special Concern|
|Bobcat||Species of Special Concern|
|Least Weasel||Species of Special Concern|
|Wavyrayed Lampmussel||Species of Special Concern|
|Little Spectaclecase||Species of Special Concern|
|Kidneyshell||Species of Special Concern|
|Purple Lilliput||Species of Special Concern|
|Vascular Plant||Cucumber Magnolia||Endangered|
|Bog Bluegrass||Watch List|
|High Quality Natural Community||Mesic Upland ForestFort Benjamin Harrison State Park||Significant|
|Central Till Plain FlatwoodsStout Woods Nature Preserve||Significant|
The Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center maintains the most comprehensive and up-to-date information about federal and state endangered, threatened, and rare species, high quality natural communities, and significant natural areas in Indiana. Requests for this information is assessed a fee based on the time needed to complete the request. This information is required by most regulatory agencies prior to issuing development permits.
Nuisance Wildlife and Exotic Invasive Species
According to IDNR, many wild animals in Indiana have become displaced as the result of urban growth and removal of their habitat. While some species may move to other areas where natural habitat exists, some species actually thrive in urban settings. Species such as raccoons, opossums, Canada geese and even red foxes are becoming more common in urban areas and are frequently seen by people. However, these animals can also cause problems when they use a person’s attic for shelter, destroy shingles and soffits, utilize lawns as homes, and eat their garbage.
Canada geese are a particular problem within the watershed, specifically for the reservoir. As stated by the DNR, many people enjoy seeing Canada geese, but problems can occur when too many geese concentrate in one area. Typically, developers and landowners unknowingly cause the problem by creating ideal goose habitat. Geese are grazers and feed extensively on fresh, short, green grass. Add a permanent body of water adjacent to their feeding area and you have the created the perfect environment for geese to set up residence, multiply and concentrate. Geese, including their young, also have a strong tendency to return to the same area year after year. Once geese start nesting in a particular place, the stage is already set for more geese in successive years. The problem is further exacerbated when well-intentioned people purposefully feed geese. Artificial feeding of geese tends to concentrate larger numbers of geese in areas that under normal conditions would only support a few geese. Artificial feeding can also disrupt normal migration patterns and hold geese in areas longer than what would be normal. With an abundant source of artificial food available, geese can devote more time to locating nesting sites and mating. Artificial feeding can also concentrate geese on adjacent properties where their presence may not be welcomed, resulting in neighbor/neighborhood conflicts.
Congregating geese can cause a number of problems. Damage to landscaping can be significant and expensive to repair or replace, while large amounts of excrement can render swimming areas, parks, golf courses, lawns, docks, and patios unfit for human use. Since they are active grazers, they are particularly attracted to lawns and ponds located near apartment complexes, houses, office areas and golf courses. Geese can rapidly denude lawns, turning them into barren, dirt areas. Most of the problems in metropolitan areas occur from March through June during the nesting season. Breeding pairs begin nesting in late February and March. Egg-laying begins soon after nest construction is complete.
Based on information obtained from the DNR website, the Indiana Legislature created an Invasive Species Task Force in October 2007 to study the economic and environmental impacts of invasive species in Indiana and provide findings and recommendations on strategies for prevention, early detection, control and management of invasive species to minimize these impacts. Based on the Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan completed by V3 as a part of this project, Blue-Green Algae and Eurasian Watermilfoil have been reported in the Geist Reservoir. Zebra mussels were also report in the reservoir early spring of 2010.
Invasive plant species are a threat to natural areas. They displace native plants, eliminate food and cover for wildlife, and threaten rare plant and animal species. Many agencies and organizations have joined together to form the Invasive Plant Species Assessment Working Group (IPSAWG) to assess which plant species threaten natural areas in Indiana and develop recommendations regarding the use of that specific plant species. The IPSAWG’s goal is that all partner agencies and organizations would utilize the species assessment when recommending or selling plants.
Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the United States. Floods can occur on a local level, or can affect entire river basins. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for many parts of the country in order for individuals and governments to assess the risk of flooding in specific areas. These maps also indicate what insurance rates property owners may need to pay to develop property in these areas. The current FIRM panels for the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed are shown on Exhibit 3. It should be noted that Indiana is in the midst of revising the floodplain maps on a county wide basis through the FEMA Map Modernization program. The floodplain maps will need to be reevaluated during the feasibility phases of implementation projects.
Insert Exhibit 3
There are three flood hazard areas identified within the watershed. Zone A, which is defined as an area inundated by 100-year flooding for which no base flood elevation (BFE) has been established comprises 9,419 acres (6.7% of the watershed). In this zone there is a 1% chance of annual flooding, and a 26% chance that the area will be inundated at sometime during the life of a 30-year mortgage. Zone AE, which is defined as an area inundated by 100-year flooding for which a BFE has been determined, comprises 2,306 acres (1.6% of the watershed). Chance of flooding in Zone AE is the same as in Zone A. However, Zone A floodplain boundaries are based off of approximate methods, and Zone AE floodplain boundaries are based off of detailed hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, establishing BFEs and making the delineation more accurate. Zone X, which is defined as an area that is either determined to be outside the 100-year floodplain but within the 500-year floodplain (0.2% chance of annual flooding) or have a 1% chance of sheet flow flooding where the average depths are less then 1 foot, comprises only 624 acres (0.4% of the watershed). These areas are considered to have a moderate or minimal risk of flooding, and the purchase of flood insurance is available but not required.
The rainfall data used to create these maps is based on Bulletin 71 rainfall depths. Bulletin 71 is a study that relied primarily on data from 275 daily reporting stations of the National Weather Service cooperative network, which had records exceeding 50 years. Based on USGS information, Central Indiana has experienced two 500-year floods in the last 18 years. Teams of USGS hydrographers have traveled to 40 streamflow-gaging stations to keep station instruments operating and to verify streamflow data needed for National Weather Service (NWS) flood forecasts. USGS personnel have worked closely with Federal, state, and local agencies during the flood to provide flood information for emergency managers, the media, and the public.
Identifying the location of floodplain areas within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed allows for targeted areas for floodplain management and/or restoration. Floodplain management is the operation of a community program of corrective and preventative measures for reducing flood damage. These measures take a variety of forms and generally include requirements for zoning, and special-purpose floodplain ordinances.
Developments within flood prone areas are regulated by local, state and federal agencies. Depending on the floodplain boundaries depicted on the FEMA FIRM for the area proposed to be developed, floodplain designation (Zone A, AE, etc.), if there is floodway present and how much tributary drainage area (less or more than one square mile) there is to the proposed site, permits from the local municipality, County, IDNR-Division of Water, and FEMA would be required.
In addition to stormwater runoff, flooding can negatively affect water quality as large volumes of water transport contaminants into water bodies and also overload storm and wastewater systems. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground and ultimately increases during periods of flooding. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, and streams.
Regulated drains consist of creeks, ditches, tiles (underground pipe systems), and other structures intended to move run-off water. Regulated drains are under the jurisdiction of the local county drainage board and/or the County Surveyor’s office. Regulated drains are common throughout the watershed and are mainly tiles and open ditches. Regulated drain locations were obtained from Hamilton, Hancock, and Madison Counties and are shown on Exhibit 4.
Regulated drains are typically maintained by the County Surveyors office. This maintenance includes dredging with large construction equipment, removal of debris, and management of vegetation both within the regulated drains and within the riparian zone associated with the drains. Based on the unpredictable maintenance schedule of regulated drains within the watershed, it is difficult to assign a priority rating to these areas for potential improvement of wildlife habitat, water quality improvement measures, and erosion control measures within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. However, the selected BMPs and Action Registers include measures and implementation projects that include regulated drains. Coordination with the County Surveyors Office will be necessary during the implementation project evaluation phase.
BMPs within regulated drains in the watershed should be evaluated prior to implementation. If regulated drains are considered for BMP measures (i.e. two-stage ditches, stabilization, etc), the Steering Committee should coordinate with the local County Surveyor’s offices of Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Madison, and Marion Counties.
Wellhead Protection Areas
The IDEM Ground Water Section administers the Wellhead Protection Program, which is a strategy to protect ground water drinking supplies from pollution. The Safe Drinking Water Act and the Indiana Wellhead Protection Rule (327 IAC 8.4-1) mandates a wellhead program for all Community Public Water Systems. The Wellhead Protection Programs consists of two phases. Phase I involves the delineation of a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA), identifying potential sources of contamination, and creating management and contingency plans for the WHPA. Phase II involves the implementation of the plan created in Phase I, and communities are required to report to IDEM how they have protected ground water resources.
Information pertaining to wellhead protection and its delineations/restrictions will be important during the implementation phases of the plan. Approved Wellhead Protection Areas are no longer available on-line due to recent legislation classifying this type of information as Confidential.
There are many different soil types throughout Indiana based on their unique characteristics. Many counties arrange these soil types by like characteristics into groups, or major soil associations. A soil association is a geographic area consisting of landscapes on which soils are formed. Soil associations are groups of soil types that generally share one or more common characteristics; such as parent material or drainage capability. These soil associations provide general characteristics for the specific soil association, and can be used for conceptual locations of best management practices. Information pertaining to the clay
Insert Exhibit 4
Insert Exhibit 5
content, permeability and even groundwater characteristics are helpful when identifying locations that are feasible for infiltration practices or other best management practices to improve the water quality within the watershed. It should be noted that soil tests in these specific areas should be performed for more project specific detailed information. The major soil associations in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed are shown in Exhibit 5. Table 4 includes the major characteristics of the four soil associations that make up the majority (94%) of the watershed.
|Table 4: Soil Associations|
|Crosby-Treaty-Miami||Deep, somewhat poorly to poorly drained soils||63,808|
|Fox-Ockley-Westland||Deep, well drained soils||25,677|
|Miami-Crosby-Treaty||Deep, moderately well drained to somewhat poorly drained soils||23,988|
|Crosby-Cyclone-Miamian||Deep, somewhat poorly to poorly drained soils||18,371|
The data source for the Soil Association Map is from the Department of Agriculture Soil Associations in Indiana GIS shapefile with a published date of December 2002. Based on this data and the time it was obtained, the water area is a total of 1,559 acres which includes the reservoir. This could be due to the fluctuation of the draw down period of the reservoir.
Highly Erodible Land
Erosion is a natural process within stream ecosystems; however excessive erosion negatively impacts the health of the watershed. Erosion throughout the watershed increases sedimentation of the streambeds which impacts the quality of habitat for fish and other organisms. As water flows over land and enters the stream it carries pollutants and other nutrients that are attached to the sediment. Sediment suspended in the water blocks light needed by plants for photosynthesis and clogs respiratory surfaces of aquatic organisms. Therefore, erosion also impacts water quality as it increases nutrients and decreases water clarity. Highly erodible land (HEL) and potentially highly erodible soils in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed are mapped in Exhibit 6. The data used to create Exhibit 6 is from the USDA-SCS Indiana Technical Guide Section II-C and was collected from the NRCS website for Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Madison, and Marion Counties. A total of approximately 10,479 acres or 7.5% of the watershed is considered highly erodible and 23,169 acres or 16.5% of the watershed is considered potentially highly erodible. It should be noted that the areas of potentially highly erodible soils appear to be significantly greater in Hamilton, Henry, and Marion Counties when compared to Delaware, Hancock, and Madison Counties. This discrepancy can be attributed to the difference in the classification of soils between the counties. For example, Miami soil (MMB2) in Hamilton County is considered potentially highly erodible however the same soil in Madison County is considered not highly erodible. Appendix M contains the USDA-SCS Indiana Technical Guide Section II-C documentation obtained for this analysis.
Highly erodible soils are especially susceptible to the erosional forces of wind and water. Wind erosion is common in flat areas where vegetation is sparse or where soil is loose, dry, and finely granulated. Wind erosion damages land and natural vegetation by removing productive top soil from one place and depositing it in another.
Insert Exhibit 6
In areas with highly erodible soils special care must be taken to insure that land use practices do not result in severe wind or water erosion. Although natural erosion cannot be prevented, the effects of runoff can be moderated so that it does not diminish the health of the watershed. There are no specific requirements for developments within highly erodible soils. However IDEMs Rule 5 regulates stormwater discharges during construction where temporary best management practices are required until construction activities are completed and the site has been stabilized as to not impact receiving waters with sediment.
Soils that remain saturated or inundated with water for a sufficient length of time become hydric through a series of chemical, physical, and biological processes. Once a soil takes on hydric characteristics, it retains those characteristics even after the soil is drained. Approximately 46,779 acres or 33.4% of the soils in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed are considered hydric (Exhibit 7).
The three essential characteristics of wetlands are hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology. Criteria for each of the characteristics must be met for areas to be identified as wetlands. Undrained hydric soils that have natural vegetation should support a dominant population of ecological wetland plant species. Hydric soils that have been converted to other uses should be capable of being restored to wetlands. However, a large majority of the soils in the watershed have been drained for either agricultural production or urban development. Removing the subsurface drainage systems would allow for restoration of these wetland areas.
Septic Tank Suitability
In rural areas, households often depend on septic tank absorption fields. These waste treatment systems require soil characteristics and geology that allow gradual seepage of wastewater into the surrounding soils. Seasonal high water tables, shallow compact till and coarse soils present limitations for septic systems. While system design (i.e. perimeter drains, mound systems or pressure distribution) can often overcome these limitations sometimes the soil characteristics prove to be unsuitable for any type of traditional septic system. Heavy clay soils require larger (and therefore more expensive) absorption fields; while sandier, well-drained soils are often suitable for smaller, more affordable gravity-flow trench systems.
The septic disposal system is considered failing when the system exhibits one or more of the following:
- The system refuses to accept sewage at the rate of design application thereby interfering with the normal use of plumbing fixtures
- Effluent discharge exceeds the absorptive capacity of the soil, resulting in ponding, seepage, or other discharge of the effluent to the ground surface or to surface waters
- Effluent is discharged from the system causing contamination of a potable water supply, ground water, or surface water.
Prior to 1990, residential homes on 10 acres or more of land — and at least 1,000 feet from a neighboring residence — did not have to comply with any septic system regulations. A new septic code in 1990 fixed this loophole but many of these homes still do not have
Insert Exhibit 7
Insert Exhibit 8
functioning septic systems. The septic effluent from many of these older homes discharges into field tiles and eventually flows to open ditches. Unfortunately, the high cost of septic repair (typically from $5,000 to $15,000) has been an impediment to modernization.
Individual septic sites must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine septic system suitability. Systems for new construction cannot be placed in the 100-year flood plain and systems for existing homes must be above the 100-year flood elevation.
Exhibit 8 is a map of soil classes related to septic suitability within the watershed. Soils labeled “very limited” indicate that the soil has at least one feature that is unfavorable for septic systems. Approximately 97.6% of the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed is mapped as “very limited” with regards to soils being suitable for septic systems. Approximately 2.4% of the soils within the watershed are “not rated.” These soils have not been assigned a rating class because it is not industry standard to install a septic system in these geographic locations. Soils designated “not limited” were not found in the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed.
The Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed consists of approximately 190,194 acres of mixed land use, according to the 2001 National Land Cover Data (NLCD) published by the USGS (Exhibit 9; Table 5). The NLCD 2001 includes nineteen land classifications ranging from cultivated crops to high intensity developed land. In order to utilize the most current available data, the 2008 National Agricultural Imagery Program orthophotography was obtained for Delaware, Hancock, Henry, Madison, and Marion Counties and the 2008 Hamilton County Orthophotography was obtained for Hamilton County. These aerial images were compared to the NLCD 2001 in order to determine if any changes in land use had occurred. Based on the 2008 aerial, minor changes in land use when looking at the overall watershed (less than .1%) were seen in comparison to the 2001 information.
|Table 5: 2001 Watershed Landuse|
|Developed, Open Space||12,771||9.11%|
|Developed, Low Intensity||8,066||5.75%|
|Developed, Medium Intensity||1,553||1.11%|
|Developed, High Intensity||698||0.50%|
This watershed has historically been dominated by agricultural land and comprises 72.755% (Barren Land, Pasture Hay, and Cultivated Crops) of its area. Additionally, forests and
Insert Exhibit 9
wetlands comprise only 10.775% (open water, forest, shrub/scrub, grassland herbaceous, woody wetlands and emergent herbaceous), and urban and residential lands comprise 16.47% of the watershed. Only 9% of the entire watershed is categorized as green space (i.e. forest and wetland areas). The developed areas only consist of 16.47% of the watershed but can have a major impact on water quality of stormwater runoff. As urban areas continue to develop within the watershed, the agencies with regulatory authority should pay careful attention to the characteristics of the existing areas and require (as much as the law allows) that developments incorporate best management practices (including avoidance of significant natural areas, buffers, etc.) within their projects.
Notable Natural Resources and Recreational Facilities
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves was contacted to provide any Indiana Natural Heritage Data or related records for all high quality natural communities or natural areas documented within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. Their response indicated that there were two known high quality natural communities within the watershed: Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park and Stout Woods Forest Preserve. However, further evaluation of the locations of these two areas indicated that they were both located outside of the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed.
A number of recreational opportunities are also scattered throughout the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. The recreational facilities and parks serve as an opportunity for the public to enjoy the natural landscape within their community as well as learn about valuable natural resources. As shown in Table 6, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Recreational Facilities database indicated that there are 29 recreational facilities (excluding schools) within the watershed.
|Table 6: Recreational Facilities|
|50th and Main Street Park||Anderson||Indiana Gun Club||Fortville|
|Aker Park||Anderson||Landmark Park||Fortville|
|Alvin D. Brown Memorial Park||Pendleton||Lost Lake Campground||Daleville|
|Belmont Park||Anderson||Markleville Community Park||Markleville|
|Circle Park||Anderson||Meadowbrook Park||Anderson|
|Dietrich Memorial Park||Middletown||Meadowbrook Parkway||Anderson|
|Falls Park||Pendleton||Pine Lakes Camping and Fishing||Pendleton|
|Fortville American Legion Park||Fortville||Putt-Putt Golf and Games||Anderson|
|Fortville Park & The Boys and Girls Club||Fortville||Southside Sports Complex||Anderson|
|Fred Glad Courts||Middletown||Spring Valley Campground||Middletown|
|Gazebo Park||Middletown||Valley View Golf Club||Middletown|
|Geist County Park||Fortville||Vernon Township Park||McCordsville|
|Geist Reservoir – Admirals Pointe||Indianapolis||Whetstone Church Park||Anderson|
|General Pulaski Park||Anderson||Wooded Wetlands and East Recreation Complex||Pendleton|
|Idlewold Country Club||Pendleton|
Other Planning Efforts
The Geist/Upper Fall Creek Watershed and the Upper White River Watershed have been the focus of scientific research recently due to the toxic blue-green algae issues in the reservoir, and therefore some watershed planning and monitoring efforts have been ongoing that provide information to this WMP. Additionally, the Geist/Upper Fall Creek Watershed is a developing watershed and the incorporated entities within the watershed have comprehensive plans and stormwater quality management plans that have been approved and are being used to manage growth within these communities. See Table 7 for available planning efforts being completed by the communities/agencies within the watershed. The list of Approved MS4 Communities was created using IDEM Rule 13 List of Designated MS4 Entities Currently Permitted and the SWQMPs were obtained from the community websites.
These planning documents provide a glimpse into the future for potential land use change that may impact the water quality of the Geist/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. This information is important to incorporate and make our best attempt to look forward with nonpoint source modeling techniques to predict future conditions. As in many cases, land use is a primary determinant of water quality conditions.
|Table 7: Other Planning Efforts|
|Watershed Management Plans||Approved MS4 Communities|
|Lower Fall Creek WMP||Delaware County|
|Hamilton County (SWQMP 1/31/2005)|
|Comprehensive Plans||Hancock County|
|Hamilton County||Madison County|
|Hancock County||City of Anderson|
|Madison County||Town of Pendleton|
|Marion County||Town of Ingalls|
|Town of Pendleton||Town of Fortville|
|Town of McCordsville|
|Long Term Control Plans (for Combined Sewer Overflow)||City of Lawrence|
|Community||No. of CSO’s||Town of Fishers (SWQMP 1/31/2005)|
|Town of Middletown||3|
|Town of Fortville||7|
Part Two of the Watershed Inventory
Hydrologic unit codes (HUCs) were developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the United States Water Resources Council (USWRC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Most federal and state agencies use this coding system. HUCs are a way of cataloguing portions of the landscape according to their drainage. Landscape units are nested within each other and described as successively smaller units. The hydrologic code attached to a specific watershed is unique, enabling different agencies to have common terms of reference and agree on the boundaries of the watershed. These commonly understood boundaries foster understanding of how landscapes function, where water quality problems should be addressed, and who needs to be involved in the planning process. The Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed in itself is a 10-digit HUC 0512020108 that, for this project, consists of nine 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Codes or HUCs (Exhibit 10).
Insert Exhibit 10
|Table 8: 12-Digit Hydrologic Unit Codes|
|Headwaters Lick Creek||051202010805||13,761||9.82%|
Available water quality, biological and landuse information was collected for the watershed. This information was then analyzed on a subwatershed (HUC 12) scale in order to prioritize and rank the subwatersheds relative to one another. A list of the data and studies utilized for this WMP are detailed below, however the results/analysis are discussed in the respective 12-digit HUC subwatershed sections.
Available Data and Studies
Lower Fall Creek Watershed Management Plan
Lower Fall Creek is not in the Upper Fall Creek/Geist Reservoir Watershed, however it does directly discharge to the Lower Fall Creek watershed and therefore is included in this WMP. The Lower Fall Creek Watershed drains approximately 57,800 acres of rural, suburban, and urban land in Central Indiana. The Lower Fall Creek Watershed consists of 6 14-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) watersheds. These include: 05120201110-010, 020, 030, 040, 050, and 060. The Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District submitted a Section 319 Non Point Source Program grant application to IDEM in 2006 to develop a Watershed Management Plan for the Lower Fall Creek Watershed. The grant application was approved in 2007 and Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. was hired to complete the plan.
The Lower Fall Creek Watershed Steering Committee focused on three pollutants (sediment, nutrients and pathogens) throughout the identification of the Critical Areas, development of the proposed best management practice recommendations, and development of the goals and decisions to improve water quality. Public education and outreach was also included as a goal of the WMP. This information was reviewed and included for information purposes only due to the fact that the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek watershed ultimately drains to this watershed.
IDEM 303(d) List
The IDEM Assessment Branch evaluates all the data they collect to develop the 305(b) report, and the 303(d) list. The 305(b) report is a document that summarizes the quality of surface waters throughout Indiana and the designated uses of these waters. Evaluations are based on different stream segments or lakes, and are discussed in the context of watersheds. To complete the evaluation, IDEM considers not only the data they collect, but data collected by other entities as long as that data meets the rigorous quality controls that IDEM uses in the collection and analysis of their own data. Other data that does not meet these standards may be used informally to validate data that does meet the quality controls.
Section 303(d) of the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each state to identify those waters that do not meet the state’s water quality targets for designated uses. These streams are to be listed on the State’s 303(d) list of impaired waters. For such waters, the State is required to establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) to meet the state water quality targets. As defined by IDEM, a TMDL established under section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, is a calculation of the maximum amount of pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality targets, and allocates pollutant loadings among point and nonpoint sources.
To determine if a waterbody should be listed on Indiana’s 303(d) list, the IDEM Assessment Branch has developed a surface water quality monitoring strategy to assess the quality of Indiana’s ambient waters. The goals of this monitoring strategy are: measure the physical, chemical, bacteriological and biological quality of the aquatic environment in all river basins and identify factors responsible for impairment; assess the impact of human and other activities on the surface water resource; identify trends through the analysis of environmental data; and provide environmental quality assessment to support water quality management programs. Known impairments in this watershed are specified in Part Two of the Watershed Inventory: Subwatershed Summaries.
Once data is collected, waterbodies are evaluated by a team of water-quality professionals within IDEM to determine if the waterbodies meet the water-quality standards set by the State, and that all designated uses are met. If a stream fails to meet these requirements, as outlined in the 303(d) listing methodology, the waterbody is considered impaired and must be listed on the 303(d) list, and a TMDL developed to address the problem.
As defined by IDEM, a TMDL is a tool for implementing water quality targets and is based on the relationship between pollutant sources and in-stream water quality conditions. The TMDL establishes the allowable loadings or other quantifiable parameters for a water body and thereby provides the basis to establish water quality-based controls. These controls should provide the pollutant reduction necessary for a water body to meet water quality targets.
The TMDL process provides a flexible assessment and planning framework for identifying load reductions or other actions needed to attain water quality targets (i.e. water quality goals to protect aquatic life, drinking water, and other water uses). The process has three steps:
- Identify Quality Limited Waters – States must identify and prepare a list of waters that do not or are not expected to meet water quality targets after applying existing required controls.
- Establish Priority Waters/Watersheds – States must prioritize waters/watersheds and target high priority waters/watersheds for TMDL development.
- Develop TMDLs – For listed waters, States must develop TMDLs that will achieve water quality targets, allowing for seasonal variations and an appropriate margin of safety. A TMDL is a quantitative assessment of water quality problems, contributing sources, and load reductions or control actions needed to restore and protect individual water bodies.
States are responsible for implementing the TMDL process. EPA reviews and approves lists of quality-limited waters and specific TMDLs. If EPA disapproves lists or TMDLs, EPA is required to establish the lists and/or TMDLs. Landowners, other agencies, and other stakeholders can often assist States or EPA in developing TMDLs for specific watersheds.
Draft TMDLs have been determined for pollutants that do not already have state regulated targets. This information is provided within the appropriate pollutant section within this plan. It should be noted that if a stream is not listed on the 303(d) list it may be impaired; however the data (or lack thereof) does not indicate the impairment at the time of publication. Exhibit 11 identifies all streams within the watershed which are listed on the 303(d) list.
IDEM Water Quality Sampling
Available water quality data from IDEM for the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed between 1996 and 2009 was obtained and evaluated to determine where water-quality problems were noted in the watershed.
The following is a list of the IDEM data obtained for this WMP.
- 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 Fish Tissue
- 1992, 1996, 2001, 2006 Macroinvertebrates
- 1996, 2001 Sediment Bio
- 1996 Synoptic
- 1996 Watershed
- 1999-2009 Fixed Station
- 2001, 2006 Corvallis
- 2001 Corvallis Biological
- 2001 E.coli – Upper WFWR
- 2001 Pesticides
- 2002-2006 Clean Sampling and Ultra-Clean Analyses
- 2006 Corvallis E.coli
- 2008 Fall Creek IBC Study
- 2008-2009 Upper Fall Creek WQ Monitoring Program
It should be noted that three IDEM sampling locations were within Geist Reservoir. Two of the sampling locations identified various Fish Tissue and Sediment Bio Studies. One sampling location was noted in the 2008 Fall Creek IBC Study. The information associated with these locations was omitted in the data analysis portion of the WMP as it is reservoir specific and does not accurately depict water quality within the subwatershed. This information is, however, included in the Appendix for information and future use purposes.
The data that was analyzed included field data, general chemistry data and metals data where available. In comparison to the CIWRP data, the IDEM data was all inclusive without a differentiation between base flow or storm flow events. Therefore, an overall average approach of this data was used in order to get a better depiction of how the watershed
actually functions at any given time. Site locations were spread throughout the watershed as shown on Exhibit 12 and the data was analyzed on a subwatershed scale as detailed in each subwatershed section.
Several water quality parameters which have standard targets associated with them were screened to determine which subwatersheds demonstrated impairments or degradations. The water quality parameters evaluated from the historical data set and their suggested targets are listed below with a detailed explanation of the parameter and the impairment that it may indicate. All parameters were summarized as means for comparison to water quality targets and other subwatersheds.
Dissolved Oxygen – Dissolved oxygen is the gaseous form of oxygen and is essential for respiration of aquatic organisms (i.e. fish and plants). Dissolved oxygen enters water by diffusion from the atmosphere and as a byproduct of photosynthesis by algae and plants. Oxygen saturation in water would equal 100% if equilibrium were reached. Values greater than 100% saturation indicate photosynthetic activity within the water or highly turbulent water. Large amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water indicate excessive algae growth. Dissolved oxygen is consumed by respiration of aquatic organisms and during bacterial decomposition of plant and animal matter. Levels of Dissolved Oxygen less than 4 mg/L and greater than 12 mg/L exceed the water quality standard for Dissolved Oxygen as described in Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 327 IAC 2-1.5-8.
Escherichia coli (E.coli) – E.coli is a member of the fecal coliform group of bacteria. When this organism is detected within water samples, it is an indication of fecal contamination. E.coli is an indigenous fecal flora of warm-blooded animals. Contributions of detectable E.coli colonies may appear within water samples due to the input from human or animal waste. Failing septic tanks, and wildlife are some known sources of E.coli impairments in waterbodies. Common sources of animal waste are agricultural feedlots (pigs, cattle, etc.), Canada goose waste, or bird waste (such as Canada geese or gulls). Rain storm events or snow melts frequently wash waste and the associated E.coli into surface water systems. Rain storm events that exceed the capacity of local sewer systems result in combined sewer overflows that can also be a source of E.coli. Land use within the Geist Reservoir Watershed is predominately agricultural and requires drain tiles due to soil type. Field tiles are not sources of E.coli but they can carry E.coli from land applied manure and runoff from the fields and pastures. The single sample state standard in Indiana for E.coli according to Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 327 IAC 2-1-6 is 235 CFU/100 mL. The measure of CFU per 100 mL means the count of colony forming units (CFU) that exist in 100 milliliters of water.
After 2000 IDEM began using the Most Probable Number (MPN) method instead of CFU for measuring E.coli. Based on a study performed by the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University, estimating procedures for MPN and CFU have intrinsic variability and are subject to additional uncertainty arising from minor variations in experimental protocol. It has been observed empirically that the standard multiple-tube fermentation (MTF) decimal dilution analysis MPN procedure is more variable than the membrane filtration CFU procedure, and that MTF derived MPN estimates are somewhat higher on average than CFU estimates, on split samples from the same water bodies.
Nitrogen – Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for organism growth. Nitrogen can enter water bodies from the air and as inorganic nitrogen and ammonia for use by bacteria, algae and larger plants. The four common forms of nitrogen are:
- Nitrite (NO2-) – is an intermediate oxidation state of nitrogen, both in the oxidation of ammonia to nitrate and in the reduction of nitrate. Nitrite is a negative charged ionized form of nitrogen (anion).
- Nitrate (NO3-) – Nitrate generally occurs in surface runoff from agricultural fields and can also be conveyed through some groundwater systems. In excessive amounts, it contributes to the illness known as methemoglobinemia in infants. Nitrate is a negative charged ionized form of nitrogen (anion).
- Ammonia (NH3) and Ammonium (NH4+ or simply NH4) – Ammonia has a polar charge and can be toxic to fish. Ammonium is a positive charged ionized form (cation) and is considered nontoxic. Ammonia is present naturally in surface waters. Bacteria produce ammonia as they decompose dead plant and animal matter. The concentration of ammonia is generally low in groundwater because it adheres to soil particles and clays and does not leach readily from soils. It can also be found in some areas with industrial discharges.
- Organic nitrogen (TKN) – is defined functionally as organically bound nitrogen in the trinegative oxidation state. Organic nitrogen includes nitrogen found in plants and animal materials, which includes such natural materials as proteins and peptides, nucleic acids and urea. In the analytical procedures, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) determines both organic nitrogen and ammonia. TKN is determined in the same manor as organic nitrogen with the exception that the ammonia is not driven off before the digestion step.
Levels of Nitrate and Nitrite greater than 10 mg/L exceed the water quality standard for those waters designated as a drinking water source for Nitrate and Nitrite as described in Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 327 IAC 2-1-6. However, for this analysis, levels above 1.6 mg/L were evaluated as the US EPA nutrient criterion for this eco-region.
pH (Acidic and Alkaline) – The pH of a water body reflects the hydrogen ion activity in the water body. pH is defined as the –log [H+]. A low pH signifies an acidic medium (lethal effects of most acids begin to appear at pH = 4.5) while a high pH signifies an alkaline medium (lethal effects of most alkalis begin to appear at pH = 9.5). Neutral pH is 7. The actual pH of a water sample indicates the buffering capacity of that water body. Levels of pH less than 6 and greater than 9 exceed the water quality standard for pH as described in Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 327 IAC 2-1.5-8. pH values can change rapidly when algae is present. Algae removes dissolve carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is acidic and therefore this process will cause pH values to rise.
Phosphorus – Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for organism growth. Phosphorus can be found in dissolved and sediment-bound forms. However, phosphorus is often locked up in all plant life, including algae. In the watershed, phosphorus is found in fertilizers and in human and animal wastes. The availability of phosphorus determines the growth and production of algae and makes it a limiting nutrient in the system. Levels of Total Phosphorus greater than 0.3 mg/L exceed the IDEM statewide draft TMDL target, while levels above 0.076 mg/L exceed the US EPA recommended water quality target. For this analysis, subwatersheds were evaluated based on EPA’s recommended target.
Total Suspended Solids (TSS) – Total suspended solids is a water quality measurement which refers to the portion of total solids retained by a filter, where as total dissolved solids (TDS) refers to the portion that passes through the filter. The principal factors affecting separation of TSS and TDS are the type of filter holder, pore size, porosity, area, and thickness of the filter and the physical nature, particle size, and amount of material deposited on the filter. Measurements of TSS can vary widely in watershed streams based on stream flow at the time of sampling. TSS measurements and modeling are frequently used to represent sediment loading. Levels of TSS greater than 30 mg/L exceed the IDEM statewide draft TMDL target.
Turbidity – The water’s transparency can be affected by two primary factors: algae and suspended particulate matter. An increase in the amount of the phytoplankton or suspended particles signifies an increase in the water’s turbidity. Levels of Turbidity greater than 10.4NTU exceed the US EPA recommended water quality limits.
Atrazine – Atrazine is an herbicide used to stop pre- and post-emergence broadleaf and grassy weeds in major agricultural crops, especially corn. Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in conservation tillage systems, which are designed to prevent soil erosion. It may also used in conventional tillage applications. Its use is controversial due to its effects on nontarget species, such as on amphibians, and because of widespread contamination of waterways and drinking water supplies. There are also thought to be implications for human birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems. Levels of Atrazine greater than 0.003 mg/L exceed the US EPA drinking water standards. The CEES Atrazine data was unable to be released for purposes of this WMP. However, this concern was discussed at the Steering Committee meetings based on the knowledge of this data and usage throughout the watershed.
Central Indiana Water Resources Partnership (CIWRP) Studies
Central Indiana Water Resources Partnership is a long-term research and development partnership between IUPUI’s Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES) and Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC. In 2003, CIWRP completed a study encompassing Geist Reservoir and the Upper Fall Creek Watershed (Appendix G). Water Quality samples were collected within the watershed during seasonal base and event flow throughout 2003 (Exhibit 13). Data collected during the CIWRP study was obtained for analysis for this watershed management plan.
The CIWRP Study included ten sampling locations within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. There are two sampling locations at the same site within the Prairie Creek Subwatershed. Based on the sampling locations, not all subwatersheds could be defined by a sample location. In order to use this data for subwatershed comparisons, some subwatersheds were grouped together and represented by a single sampling site. Several water quality parameters which have standard targets associated with them were screened to determine which subwatersheds demonstrated impairments or degradations. All parameters were summarized as means for comparison to water quality targets and other subwatersheds.
Based on the information obtained for the CIWRP 2009 Research Program website, CIWRP also continues to do blue-green algae research within Geist Reservoir which recently has included documentation on the occurrence of taste and odor compounds as well as cyanotoxins. Exposure to a blue-green algae during recreational activities such as swimming, wading, and water-skiing may lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation, and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches, and tingling in fingers and toes.
There are three main goals for this continued research: 1) to document algal community composition and abundance; 2) to determine the relationship between physical and chemical reservoir conditions and algal community structure and abundance; and 3) to document the occurrence of cyanobacterial toxins and taste and odor compounds. Results of the 2008 study provided important information regarding differences and similarities of phytoplankton community structure and the occurrence of cyanotoxins and taste and odor metabolites in the reservoir. A summary of the 2008 research project as well as the presentation given by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Nicolas Clercin (CEES) and Mark Gray (Veolia Water) on the findings specifically in Geist Reservoir can be found in Appendix G. The Geist Reservoir study sites included seven sites. All seven sites were evaluated for water quality parameters and two of these sites were evaluated for algal toxins. Samples were collected 11 times from May to November.
IDEM Biological Sampling
Available biological data from IDEM for the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed was obtained and evaluated to determine where water-quality problems were noted in the watershed (see Appendix F for a complete list of IDEM data). Data included macroinvertebrate, fisheries and habitat data where available. IDEM sampling locations were spread throughout the watershed as shown on Exhibit 12 and the data was analyzed on a subwatershed scale as detailed in each subwatershed section. As stated in IDEM’s Surface Water Quality Assessment Program – Macroinvertebrate Community Assessment Program objectives, any biological community assessment is a measurement of an ecosystem and how it responds to environmental stresses and gives an overall picture of the conditions, at the point being assessed. When conducted in conjunction with chemical analysis of specific water quality parameters and aquatic habitat quality, this information can provide a complete and comprehensive understanding of the ecological quality of the watershed.
Macroinvertebrate data was analyzed based on the Macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (mIBI). Macroinvertebrate monitoring followed the US EPA Rapid Bioassessment Protocol single habitat, family level approach method. The mIBI is designed to assess biotic integrity directly through ten metrics which evaluate a macroinvertebrate community’s species richness, evenness, composition, and density within the stream. These metrics include the family-level HBI (Hilsenhoff’s Family Biotic Index), number of taxa, number of individuals, Percent Dominant Taxa, EPT index, EPT count, EPT count to total number of individuals, EPT count to Chironomid count, Chironomid count, and number of individuals per number of squares sorted. Values for the ten metrics are compared with corresponding ranges and a rating of 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 is assigned to each metric. A final score of 0 – 2 is a severely impaired stream, 2 – 4 is moderately impaired, 4 – 6 is slightly impaired and 6 – 8 is not impaired for biological quality. The average of these ratings gives a total mIBI score.
Fisheries data was analyzed based on the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI). The IBI is based on fish surveys with the rating dependent on the abundance and composition of the fish species in a stream. Fish communities are useful for assessing stream quality because fish represent the upper level of the aquatic food chain and therefore reflect conditions in the lower levels of the food chain. Fish population characteristics are dependent on the physical habitat, hydrologic and chemical conditions of the stream, and are considered good indicators of overall stream quality because they reflect stress from both chemical pollution and habitat perturbations. For example, the presence of fish species that are intolerant of pollution are an indicator that water quality is good. The IBI is calculated on a scale of 12 to 60, the higher the score the better the stream quality. When more than one data set was available, the IBI scores were summarized as means for comparison to other subwatersheds.
Habitat data was analyzed based on the IDEM Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) habitat assessment approach which evaluates physical characteristics of a stream. Habitat incorporates all aspects of physical and chemical constituents along with the biotic interactions. Habitat includes all of the in-stream and riparian habitat that influences the structure and function of the aquatic community in a stream. The presence of an altered habitat structure is considered one of the major stressors of aquatic systems. The maximum score that can be obtained using the IDEM QHEI is a value of 100. QHEI scores below 51 indicate that the stream is non-supporting for aquatic communities. QHEI scores form 51 to 64 are partially supporting to aquatic communities and scores above 64 are fully supporting. QHEI can also be broken down in several different categories that range from Excellent (70-100), Good (55-69), Fair (43-54), Poor (31-42), to Very Poor (<30). When more than one data set was available, the QHEI scores were summarized as means for comparison to other subwatersheds.
V3 Reservoir Shoreline Investigation
V3 completed at Reservoir Shoreline Investigation of Geist Reservoir in June 2009, using both field observations and aerial photography. During the survey, areas of unprotected shoreline were identified in order to gain an understanding of where erosion may be a concern as well as areas that can be included in implementation projects. Unprotected areas ranged from naturally eroding shoreline (i.e. tree coverage prohibiting vegetation growth with solid root mass for stabilization) to lack of sediment and erosion control measures causing eroded shoreline due to construction activities (i.e. Rule 5 violations). An exhibit showing the areas of unprotected shoreline is included in Appendix J along with a copy of the field notes.
V3 Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan
The purpose of an aquatic vegetation management plan is to identify aquatic weed problem areas, describe management objectives, prescribe management strategies, and determine funding needs and sources necessary for the control of invasive aquatic vegetation.
Aquatic vegetation is an important component of lake ecosystems in Indiana; however as a result of many factors, aquatic vegetation can develop to a nuisance level. Nuisance quantities of aquatic vegetation are described as plant growth that negatively impacts lake uses such as swimming, boating, and fishing. Exotic species typically reach nuisance quantities as they outcompete native species and proliferate rapidly.
The goals outlined in the vegetation management plan were created based on the results of vegetation surveys and interaction with the Upper White River Watershed Alliance, Veolia Water, Watershed Stakeholders and IDNR biologists. The Geist Reservoir Vegetation Management Plan was created as a proactive measure to effectively propose exotic species management and to help reach the management goals established by the IDNR for all public lakes in Indiana.
It is important to note that all management actions proposed are related to invasive exotic species within Geist Reservoir. The vegetation survey results identified Eurasian watermilfoil as the only exotic species currently present within Geist Reservoir and is really the only vegetation providing any sort of habitat structure. Based on these findings, a recommendation of no treatment or management was made.
A windshield survey is a type of watershed assessment conducted by an observer traversing the watershed in a motorized vehicle. Real time data is then collected at predetermined stream crossings and accessible locations. Survey locations were split up per subwatershed based on the size of the subwatershed with a total of 100 waterway crossing points and 50 land points. The locations of the waterway crossing points were determined based on ease of access to the streams at roadway crossings (i.e. bridge and/or culvert crossings). The locations of the land points were also determined based on ease of access and were generally located at roadway crossings within the subwatershed. As shown in Exhibit 14, all of the locations identified for windshield survey analysis are spread out throughout each subwatershed in order to provide an overall representation of the subwatershed. The index maps for each subwatershed with the site location identification are included in Appendix H.
Example of Rip-Rap Stabilized Streambank
Observations were made during October/November 2009 by Steering Committee volunteers. Observations including general site information (i.e. location and weather), land use, land odor, evidence of best management practices, water color/appearance, water odor, evidence of algae, streambank erosion, stream buffers & type, in-stream debris, available shade/stream cover and in-stream habitat were recorded for 150 locations throughout the watershed (Exhibit 14) on standardized survey forms (Appendix H). While all of this information is valid for an overall understanding of the subwatershed, five of the major parameters (animal access, tillage type, streambank erosion, stream buffers and in-stream debris) were used as a part of the subwatershed assessments and the identification of subwatershed priority areas and specific source critical areas. The remainder of the information obtained during the windshield survey should be reevaluated during the feasibility phases of plan implementation.
Streambank erosion is a natural process within a stream system; however erosion is often accelerated through alterations to the natural 14
system (e.g. changes in landuse, animal access to streams, etc). This accelerated erosion can contribute high sediment loads to the receiving stream, which is a concern due both to the impacts of the sediment itself, and of the contaminants that often bind with, or otherwise reside in the sediment. Suspended sediment is a component of the amount of particulate matter in the water column and contributes to increases in the total suspended solids values, making it more difficult and often times impossible for fish and aquatic macroinvertebrates to live. The sediment itself can smother aquatic habitat and therefore negatively affect the aquatic flora and fauna. Sediment can also transport nutrients, especially phosphorus that tends to adhere to sediment particles causing excess algal growth leading to the large swings in DO. Streambank erosion was assessed on a subwatershed scale at each of the waterway crossing points. Identification of streambank erosion was broken up into the following categories: absent, stabilized (rip-rap, coir log, etc.), present > 3 feet tall and present < 3 feet tall.
Example of Animal Access to Stream
Stream buffers are areas of natural vegetation between a surface water body and the surrounding land use. Buffers were only identified as adequate if they were at least ten feet in width. As shown on the example picture, Absent Buffers are those where the agricultural land or development is farmed/built up to the top of the stream bank leaving no possibility of runoff from being filtered through a grassed or treed area before entering the stream. Runoff from the surrounding land may carry sediment and organic matter, and plant nutrients and pesticides that are either bound to the sediment or dissolved in the water.
Example of Absent Stream Buffer
Buffers provide water quality protection by reducing the amount of pollutants in the runoff before it enters the water body. Constructed filter strips can also provide localized erosion protection and habitat for wildlife. Stream buffers were assessed on a subwatershed scale at each of the waterway crossing points. Identification of buffers was broken up into the following categories: absent, present > 50 feet and present (minimum 10 feet) < 50 feet. In areas of agricultural drain tile, the effectiveness of stream buffers can be lower than in areas without these drainage systems especially for contaminants that are transported largely as dissolved load such as nitrate and certain pesticides, including Atrazine. It should be noted that the 30 feet reference in the BMP section is in regards to the minimum required buffer width for funding opportunities from the USDA and in general is a standard minimum for water quality. The 50 foot reference is for the windshield survey. It was determined to use 50 feet instead of 30 feet since this parameter wasn’t going to actually be measured but observed from a vehicle and therefore leaving some room for interpretation.
In-stream debris was also noted during the windshield survey. In-stream debris can inhibit wildlife and aquatic habitat, increase flooding risks, and introduce additional pollutants. This information is valuable for the purposes of determining public education opportunities. Debris was assessed on a subwatershed scale based on the presence and type of debris (trash, deposits, log jam, etc) identified during the windshield survey. Animal access was assessed on a subwatershed scale based on the presence of animals or indicators of access.
Nonpoint Source Pollution Modeling
Nonpoint source pollution is a type of pollution generated from diffused sources in both public and private domains. As defined by EPA, the pollution from nonpoint sources originates from urban runoff, construction activities, manmade modification of hydrologic regime of a watercourse (i.e. retention, detention, channelization, etc.), silviculture, mining, agriculture, irrigation return flows, solid waste disposal, atmospheric deposition, stream bank erosion, and individual or zonal sewage disposal. Therefore, nonpoint pollution sources have their origin in a wide spectrum of public and private activities and, when not known or properly controlled, could affect, the water quality in a certain area.
Since runoff from the rainfall flows over or through the land and collects pollutants and nutrients prior to entering waterways, the overall characteristics and land use types of a watershed greatly influences the water quality. Each land use type includes the cumulative effects of various land covers, and natural and man-made activities. Therefore, each land use type can have an adverse affect on water quality, by contributing different pollutant amounts and concentrations. The cumulative effect of this pollution throughout the watershed represents the contribution of nonpoint source pollution.
Nonpoint source pollution management is highly dependent on hydrologic simulation models, and use of computer modeling is often the only viable means of providing useful input information for adopting the best management decisions. As previously mentioned, the nonpoint pollution sources are generated by activities that are spatially distributed on the analyzed watershed or study area. Due to this spatial distribution of nonpoint pollution sources, the computation models used to study pollutant transport and stream bank erosion require large amounts of data for analysis in even a small watershed.
For the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed, a tabular based nonpoint source pollution loading model was used to assess the nonpoint source pollution of three main pollutant parameters (Total Nitrogen (N), Total Phosphorus (P) and Total Sediment) that have been identified as elements of concern by both stakeholders and water sampling events. This model is known as the Spreadsheet Tool for Estimating Pollutant Load (STEPL). STEPL employs simple algorithms to calculate nutrient and sediment loads from different land uses and the load reductions that would result from the implementation of various best management practices (BMPs).
For each subwatershed, the annual nutrient loading is calculated based on the runoff volume and the pollutant concentrations in the runoff water as influenced by factors such as the land use distribution and management practices. The annual sediment load (sheet and rill erosion only) is calculated based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and the sediment delivery ratio. The sediment and pollutant load reductions that result from the implementation of BMPs are computed using the known BMP efficiencies.
The STEPL model was executed for each HUC 12 subwatershed within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed. It should be noted that all computation models have assumptions and limitations. Therefore, the provided analytical results may not represent the exact pollution loads. In these conditions, even if the results are relative, they still can provide useful information for targeting and prioritizing subwatersheds for Best Management Practices (BMPs).
It is also important to note that the above presented nonpoint source modeling does not specifically include bank erosion and mass wasting, which can contribute additional pollutant loads of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus. However, certain landuses within the model have input values that incorporate some bank erosion that is typical for that land practice.
NPDES Permitted Facilities & Confined Feeding Operations
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Records for NPDES facilities and Confined Feeding Operations within the watershed were obtained from IDEM (Exhibit 15) and are analyzed on a subwatershed scale. The CFO compliance information obtained from IDEM did not include the type of operation for all of the CFOs within the watershed. Therefore, this information was not provided in the plan, however all obtained data is included on the Appendices CD. The permit status of the CFO is provided on Exhibit 15 as well as on each individual subwatershed exhibit and in each subwatershed section in the Subwatershed Summary.
Based on information obtained from IDEM, the State of Indiana’s efforts to control the direct discharge of pollutants to waters of the State were inaugurated by the passage of the Stream Pollution Control Law of 1943. The vehicle currently used to control direct discharges to waters of the State is the NPDES Permit Program. This was made possible by the passage of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (also referred to as the Clean Water Act). These permits place limits on the amount of pollutants that may be discharged to waters of the State by each discharger. These limits are set at levels protective of both the aquatic life in the waters which receive the discharge and protective of human health.
There are several different types of permits that are issued in the NPDES permitting program including Municipal, Semi-Public or State (sanitary-type discharger); Industrial (wastewater generated in producing a product); and Wet Weather/Storm Water-related (wastewater resulting from precipitation coming in contact with a substance which is either dissolved or suspended in the water).
The purpose of the NPDES permit is to control the point source discharge of pollutants into the waters of the State such that the quality of the water of the State is maintained in accordance with the standards contained in 327 IAC 2. The NPDES permit requirements must ensure that, at a minimum, any new or existing point source must comply with
technology-based treatment requirements that are contained in 327 IAC 5-5-2. According to 327 IAC 5-2-2, “Any discharge of pollutants into waters of the State as a point source discharge, except for exclusions made in 327 IAC 5-2-4, is prohibited unless in conformity with a valid NPDES permit obtained prior to discharge.” This is the most basic principal of the NPDES permit program.
The majority of NPDES permits have existed since 1974. This means that most of the permit writing is for permit renewals. Approximately 10% of each year’s workload is attributed to new permits, modifications and requests for estimated limits. NPDES permits are designed to be re-issued every five years but are administratively extended in full force and effect indefinitely if the permittee applied for a renewal before the current permit expires.
Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs) are also considered a point source requiring an NPDES permit. Indiana law defines a confined feeding operation as any animal feeding operation engaged in the confined feeding of at least 300 cattle, or 600 swine or sheep, or 30,000 fowl. IDEM regulates these confined feeding operations. The animals raised in confined feeding operations produce manure and wastewater which is collected and stored in pits, tanks, lagoons and other storage devices. The manure is then applied to area fields as fertilizer. When stored and applied properly, this beneficial reuse provides a natural source of nutrients for crop production. It also lessens the need for fuel and other resources that are used in the production of commercial fertilizer. Confined feeding operations, however, can also pose environmental concerns, including manure leakage or spillage from storage pits, lagoons or tanks; and improper application of manure to the land. These environmental concerns are manifest as excessive nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, and bacterial contamination (E.coli).
CFOs within the watershed were categorized based on their permitted status – active, expired or voided. An active CFO indicates that the farm has a current approval, the manure management plan is up to date and the farm can operate. An expired CFO indicates that the farm did not start construction within two years of their approval date, so their approval expired. A voided CFO indicates that the farm has closed or gone beneath the numbers required to be in the CFO program. The CFO information obtained from IDEM included permits that date back to 2002 and are as recent as 2008.
Marion County Health Department Water Quality Data
In January of 1997, Marion County Health Department (MCHD) started an ambient sampling project for Fall Creek. This project consisted of nine sites sampled five times per month, with geometric means calculated for each site’s E.coli data. The purpose of the project was to find non-combined sewer overflow (CSO) influences of E.coli to Fall Creek. In 1999, the sampling points were adjusted to coincide with the City’s CSO projects to help determine their overall impact to water quality, as well as to maintain data for historical comparison and continue working on non-CSO influences. Presently, six sites on Fall Creek are sampled five times per month, with geometric means calculated for each site’s E.coli data. Analysis includes – E.coli, Temperature, pH, Conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids, and Dissolved Oxygen.
MCHD also samples several sites throughout the county through an herbicide monitoring program and a macroinvertebrate collection program.
The MCHD sites are located downstream of the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed and therefore were not used in this analysis. This data may be useful during implementation to determine the downstream impact of BMPs in the upper reaches of the watershed.
Hamilton County Health Department Recreational Water Sampling
The objective of the Hamilton County Recreational Water Sampling Program is to monitor and evaluate E.coli levels in Hamilton County’s recreational waterways. The Hamilton County Health Department mapped approximately nineteen locations where the public is most likely to come into contact with surface water. The sampling locations were selected by the Health Department Administrator and Vector Biologist. Sites were selected based on the probability of full body contact and the ability to collect and deliver samples to the Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory in Indianapolis. Water samples are collected during the recreational season, from April through October. Sampling over this period provides valuable information concerning fluctuations of E.coli levels in Hamilton County’s recreational waterways. Since it naturally occurs in the digestive tract of humans and other warm blooded animals, the presence of E.coli in water indicates contamination from raw sewage. Exposure to elevated levels of E.coli can cause illness and infections. According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, samples exceeding 235 colonies per 100 milliliters are in violation of the state code requirements for recreational waterways.
There are three sampling locations within the Upper Fall Creek/Geist Reservoir Watershed. Samples have been taken at these locations since May 20, 2004 totaling 108 samples. Twenty-three times the samples exceeded the maximum level of E.coli and were considered unsatisfactory.
Indiana Clean Lakes Program
The Indiana Clean Lakes Program was created in 1989 as a program within IDEM’s Office of Water Management. The program is administered through a grant to Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The program is a comprehensive, statewide public lake management program focusing on public information and education, technical assistance, volunteer lake monitoring, lake water quality assessment and coordination with other state and federal lake programs.
Sampling information for Geist Reservoir is available through the Indiana Clean Lakes Program for the years 1991, 1996 and 2002. The sampling location had a maximum depth of 6.7m and secchi depths were measured at 0.4m, 0.8m, and 0.3m in 1991, 1996, and 2002 respectively.
IDEM Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii Report
The Distribution and Abundance of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in Indiana Lakes and Reservoirs report was prepared by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs program and was administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Office of Water Quality through the Clean Water Act Section 205(j) funds.
Samples were collected from Geist Reservoir during routine lake assessments through the Indiana Clean Lakes Program in August of 2002. The sample measured 1,861 cells/ml of C. raciborskii which is well below the relatively mild and/or low probability of adverse health effects category. As mentioned in the report, the extent of this study was limited and should not be considered an all inclusive report on C. raciborskii in the Geist Reservoir. This information does however express that the overall health of the reservoir and that it is conducive to producing this potentially toxic alga.
IDEM Mid-water Planktonic Invertebrate Report
The purpose of this study was driven by the Eagle Creek fish kill in 2000 and was completed to determine the relative abundance of the populations of light responsive zooplankton within Eagle Creek, Morse and Geist Reservoirs.
Three samples were taken within the Geist Reservoir, one sample at the upper end of the reservoir (shallow end sample), one in the middle and one at the downstream end of the reservoir (mid and deep end samples). Out of the three reservoirs, Geist had the second highest number of collected zooplankton (6,945). The abundance of zooplankton, if detailed sample analysis was completed at a lower taxonomic level, would provide a better indication of reservoir health in that they are a food base for vertebrate and invertebrate predators.
US Filter/Indianapolis Water (Veolia Water)
Bi-weekly sampling near Geist Reservoir has been conducted since October of 2002. Two sampling sites are located at Florida Road and Thorpe Creek and at County Line and Bee Camp within the Thorpe Creek Subwatershed. Samples are collected biweekly for cations, anions, total phosphorus, alkalinity, turbidity and pH. This data was not included in the WMP analysis; however it may be useful during implementation to determine the downstream impact of Best Management Practices in the upper reaches of the watershed.
The following sections break down the water quality information obtained for the WMP by subwatershed. Sample locations from the previously mentioned available data and studies are provided on a detailed exhibit for each subwatershed. Sample locations from these studies may occur at the same site with the symbols overlapping (symbols were chosen in order to determine whether the icons were overlapping). For clarification on individual study sites, the overall watershed maps should be consulted (Exhibits 12-15). A comparison of the subwatersheds is provided at the end of this section as a way to understand the differences in water quality parameters from one subwatershed to another.
In general, the overall characteristics and land use types of a watershed greatly influences the water quality since runoff from rainfall flows over or through the land and collects pollutants and nutrients prior to entering waterways. The IDEM data included 93 stations within the watershed that analyzed E.coli, Nitrate+Nitrite, Total Phosphorus, Total Suspended Solids and Turbidity. The CIWRP Study included 10 sampling locations within the Geist Reservoir/Upper Fall Creek Watershed and analyzed E.coli, Nitrate+Nitrite, Total Phosphorus, Total Suspended Solids and Turbidity. Based on the CIWRP sampling locations, not all subwatersheds could be defined by a sample location. In order to use the CIWRP data for subwatershed comparisons, some subwatersheds were grouped together and represented by a single CIWRP sampling site. CIWRP water quality samples were collected within the watershed during seasonal base and event flow. In comparison to the CIWRP data, the IDEM data was all inclusive without a differentiation between base flow or storm flow events. Therefore, an overall average approach of this data was used in order to get a better depiction of how the watershed actually functions at any given time. Depending on the pollutant, both types of samples can result in elevated values. For example, the E.coli values shown in the subwatershed tables are extremely elevated when compared to the IDEM data. This is a major concern in the watershed and is reflected so in the problems and goals described later in the WMP.
Nonpoint source pollution modeling is a quantitative way to evaluate the effects of land use on water quality for comparison purposes. A nonpoint source pollution model was created for the WMP. The results are provided in an overall summary in Part Three of the Watershed Inventory. It should be noted that all computation models have assumptions and limitations. Therefore, the provided analytical results may not represent the exact pollution loads. In these conditions, even if the results are relative, they still can provide useful information for targeting and prioritizing subwatersheds for Best Management Practices (BMPs). Part Three of the Watershed Inventory explores the relationships of nonpoint source modeling among all 10 of the subwatersheds.
NPDES permits and locations of Confined Feeding Operations can also be indicative of the land use and the subsequent water quality of a subwatershed. Records for NPDES facilities and Confined Feeding Operations within the watershed were obtained from IDEM and are analyzed on a subwatershed scale. The CFO compliance information obtained from IDEM did not include the type of operation for all of the CFOs within the watershed. Therefore, this information was not provided in the plan, however all obtained data is included on the Appendices CD. The permit status of the CFO is provided in each subwatershed section where appropriate in the Subwatershed Summary.