Water-Quality and Ground-Water Hydrology of the Columbia/Eagle Bluffs Wetland Complex, Columbia, Missouri— 1992–99

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4227



In an effort to restore riverine wetlands along the Missouri River, the Missouri Department of Conservation constructed the 2,700-acre Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. The primary water source for managing 1,200 wetland acres on the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is treated effluent received from a 91-acre constructed wastewater-treatment wetland operated by the city of Columbia, Missouri. The combined areas of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and the wastewater-treatment wetland are termed the Columbia/Eagle Bluffs Wetland Complex. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the city of Columbia, Missouri, collected samples quarterly from August 1992 to March 1999 from a monitoring network that included 33 ground-water sites and 4 surface-water sites to establish a baseline pre-effluent data set and to provide post-effluent data for trend analysis.

Changes in major chemical constituent concentrations have been observed at several sampling locations between pre- and post-effluent data. Analysis of post-effluent time-series water-quality data indicates changes occurred in sodium, potassium, calcium, sulfate, and chloride concentrations at 13 sites. These changes can be correlated to the beginning of the operation of the wastewater-treatment wetland. The concentrations of these major chemical constituents plot on the mixing continuum between pre-effluent ground water as one end member and the treated effluent as the other end member. At ground water sites that had changes in concentrations, the relative percentage of treated effluent in the ground water, assuming chloride is conservative, ranged from 11 to more than 100 percent.

At ground-water sites, few changes were noted in fecal indicator bacteria, nutrients, trace constituents, total and dissolved organic carbon, and organic constituents. Other than changes in boron concentrations at one ground-water site, these changes could not be directly correlated to the operation of the treatment wetland or the management of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. After the treatment wetland began operation, improvement in the water quality in Perche Creek was observed. With respect to fecal indicator bacteria and nutrient concentrations, the water quality of water discharging from the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area was improved relative to the water entering the area.

Persistent ground-water highs have been observed beneath the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and wastewater-treatment unit 1 following the flooding of the wetland areas. These ground-water highs occur during the fall and winter months when ground- and surface-water levels are high and during the spring and summer months when the water levels are lower. The Missouri River stage had a strong effect on the water levels in the aquifer during pre-effluent conditions, but the effect has been lessened by the ground-water high.

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Study Area
  • Methods of Study
  • Water-Quality Characteristics
  • Water-Quality Trends
  • Ground-Water Hydrology
  • Surface-Water and Ground-Water Interaction
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water-quality and ground-water hydrology of the Columbia/Eagle Bluffs Wetland Complex, Columbia, Missouri— 1992-99
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2002-4227
DOI 10.3133/wri024227
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Missouri Water Science Center
Description v, 63 p.
Country United States
State Missouri
Other Geospatial Columbia/Eagle Bluffs wetland complex
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details