Pokegama, Little Pokegam and Red Rivers 303d Assessment -NOR_01_CMP13B

Purpose

This is a 303d assessement of the Pokegama, Little Pokegama and Red Rivers located in the St. Louis AOC. Sampling using WDNR protocols will be done to capture data that is currently lacking in our database to properly classify these streams and make recommendations for upcoming 303d list.

Objective

The Pokegama River originates just over the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and flows nearly 26 miles before discharging into Pokegama Bay on the St. Louis River. The Little Pokegama is just over eight miles in length and flows parallel until it discharges at the upstream end of Spirit Lake on the St. Louis River (St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan). Although designated as a limited forage fishery (LFF), the Pokegama River has been identified by Pratt (1996) as an important spawning area for walleye, northern pike, longnose and white suckers, burbot and other members of a diverse fishery. Habitat and water quality are a concern in the Pokegama system. Like most other flashy, red-clay influenced streams in this watershed, deeply cut clay banks and scoured channels are abundant. Suspended clay limits submerged vegetation growth as well as increasing turbidity and sediment deposition. All of these factors are hypothesized to limit fish abundance with lack of fish cover, or habitat, a major concern(St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan). Nutrient levels in Pokegama Bay were found to be elevated compared to other areas of the St. Louis River during a baseline evaluation of the St. Louis River Area of Concern in 2010 (see Table 2). The mean reported phosphorus value for Pokegama Bay was 0.093 mg/L, nearly twice the 0.042 mg/L found in Allouez Bay. Bear Creek, a stream with agricultural influences and a mean recorded phosphorus value of 0.14 mg/L is a tributary to Allouez Bay. Also, Hog Island Inlet showed a mean phosphorus value of 0.07 mg/L, 0.023 mg/L less than Pokegama Bay. Newton Creek, a tributary to Hog Island Inlet and discharge of Murphy Oil, had a mean phosphorus value of 0.24 mg/L. Other areas of the St. Louis AOC have lower phosphorus values than Pokegama Bay even though they have streams flowing into them that have elevated levels of phosphorus. Therefore, the concern is that the Pokegama River is carrying highly elevated levels of phosphorus into Pokegama Bay. A water treatment plant is located on an unnamed tributary (WBIC – 2844200) to the Pokegama River. This tributary receives discharge from the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway Switching Yards industrial and sanitary wastewater treatment system (St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan). If this is one of the sources of elevated phosphorus levels, it should be identified through water chemistry analysis. The Red River is approximately 7.4 miles in length and has roughly a dozen tributaries. Red clay soils, steep topography, sharply rolling hills, some bank slippage, slumping, and erosion characterize areas in this watershed according to the St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan. Due to extreme flows this stream is susceptible to bottom scouring. The Lake Superior Binational Program identified this watershed as important to the integrity of the Lake Superior ecosystem for coastal wetlands and contribution to ecosystem integrity. The Red River’s attainable use designation and fisheries classification is a Class I trout stream. Its current use designation is a Class III trout stream which indicates it is not meeting its attainable use. In 2006 and 2008, baseline fish surveys of the Red River and a tributary did not result in sampling any trout. Though 6.3 miles of the Red River is listed as an Exceptional Resource Water (ERW), Epstein (1997) found moderate richness of invertebrate taxa present, but noted significant turbidity, iron bacteria, marl sludge, low flows and bank erosion.

Outcome

The project outcome will identify if the Pokegama, Little Pokegama and Red Rivers should be included on the 2014 303d list update. Bug and fish IBI's will be calculated and continuous temperature data will be used to assess the streams. Also, information about use designation and attainable use will be collected. Information such as flow will be collected for use in the upcoming St. Louis River TMDL. A final report will be written and entered into SWIMS.

Study Design

In concert with the St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan, we propose continued monitoring of the Pokegama system for 303d consideration and attainable use/use designation analysis. Our methods will include two stations on the Pokegama River (SWIMS ID 10032640 & 10037303) and two additional sites on the Little Pokegama River (10015473 & 163207). Analysis will include continuous temperature loggers at 3 sites (10032640, 10037303 &10015473) and quantitative & qualitative habitat analysis, aquatic macroinvertebrate collection, electrofishing and water chemistry (total phosphorus, TSS and NTU’s) sampling at all four sites. Water chemistry will be sampled once a month from May – Oct. Field parameters such as dissolved oxygen levels and percent saturation, pH and conductivity will also be recorded. Water chemistry will also be collected at one site on Pokegama Bay (10028980) during sampling trips. These samples will include Chlorophyll A measurements in addition to total phosphorus, TSS and NTU’s to assess eutrophication. As proposed by the St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan, we would also like to investigate the current health of the Red River watershed and see if it should be included on the 2014 update to the 303d impaired waters list. Comprehensive sampling would occur at three sites on the Red River and its tributaries (10029330, 10015468 & 10029329). This sampling will be very similar to the sampling on the Pokegama system and include quantitative and qualitative habitat assessments, electro-fishing, macro invertebrate collection and water chemistry analysis at all three sites and continuous temperature loggers at 10029330 and 10015469. Flow data collected during quantitative habitat analysis from the Pokegama, Little Pokegama and Red Rivers would also aid in the upcoming St. Louis River TMDL study. We currently have the LTE staffing available to complete this project and no additional LTEs would need to be hired. Ultimately, fish and bug IBIs will be calculated and, along with habitat assessments, will be used to properly designate the streams attainable uses and to see if they are achieving these. If they are not, possible reasons will be identified, including water quality, and will be used to make recommendations for possible inclusion in the 2014 update to the 303d impaired waters list.

Related Reports

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Impaired Water Assessment
NOR_01_CMP13B
2012
Complete
 
Reports and Documents
Autogenerated Summary
 
Activities & Recommendations
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
This is a 303d assessement of the Pokegama, Little Pokegama and Red Rivers located in the St. Louis AOC. The Little Pokegama is just over eight miles in length and flows parallel until it discharges at the upstream end of Spirit Lake on the St. Louis River (St. Louis and Lower Nemadji River Watershed Plan). Bug and fish IBI's will be calculated and continuous temperature data will be used to assess the streams. Also, information about use designation and attainable use will be collected. Information such as flow will be collected for use in the upcoming St. Louis River TMDL.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
To evaluate Pokegama, Red River Monitoring and Little Pokegama for Impaired Waters listing.
 
Watershed
 
Waters