Nutrients in Northern Missouri Streams

Fact Sheet 2019-3038
Prepared in cooperation with Missouri Department of Natural Resources
By:

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Abstract

Nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, are necessary for healthy aquatic communities to thrive, but if nutrient concentrations are too high, water quality can be degraded and natural aquatic communities may be destroyed. Nutrients consistently have been listed nationally as one of the top five causes of stream and river impairments, and agriculture consistently has been identified as the leading known source. The Mississippi River watershed was identified as a top priority for nutrient reductions because of the predominant agricultural land use, the associated harmful effects of nutrient loading on local water bodies, and the resulting annual midsummer northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic “dead” zone. In 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service started the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which offers financial and technical assistance for voluntary conservation practices on agricultural lands. The intention is to reduce nutrient and sediment export to waterways within the Mississippi River watershed. The U.S. Geological Survey Missouri Water Science Center and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources began a cooperative study in 2010 to compare temporal changes in total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations in the Lower Grand River.

Despite increases in conservation practice funding from the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative during 2011–15 for the Lower Grand River, decreases in flow-normalized total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations during this same period at the Grand River site were less than at the other long-term Missouri River tributary sites that did not receive additional funding. The flow-normalized total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations at the three long-term Missouri River tributary sites were related to the amount of agricultural land use within their watersheds and livestock manure may be a substantial source of stream nitrogen. Monthly total nitrogen and total phosphorus concentrations within the Lower Grand River increased with increased streamflow, indicating that the major sources of nitrogen and phosphorus are runoff or nutrients that are stored in soils within the streambank that mobilize during higher streamflows. Programs such as the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative are intended to encourage voluntary agricultural conservation practices to enhance soil health and reduce nutrient export to streams.

Suggested Citation

Krempa, H.M., 2019, Nutrients in northern Missouri streams: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2019–3038, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20193038.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  • Nutrients in Northern Missouri Streams
  • Study Design
  • Nutrient Concentration Changes and Agricultural Practices
  • Reducing Nutrients in Waterways
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Nutrients in northern Missouri streams
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2019-3038
DOI 10.3133/fs20193038
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Central Midwest Water Science Center
Description 4 p.
Country United States
State Missouri
Online Only (Y/N) N