Hydrologic Summary

Streams

For several types of streams and other flowing water features, AgSite reports list their presence throughout a selected land tract as length in feet. The U.S. Geologic Survey defines a stream as a water body that flows naturally during at least a portion of the year, and it further categorizes streams based on factors such as water carrying frequency, source of the water that they carry and construction.

  • Perennial stream: A perennial stream generally carries water throughout the year. This may not be true during severe drought conditions, however. Water flowing in perennial streams originates from smaller upstreams, groundwater sources and precipitation runoff.
  • Intermittent stream: Intermittent streams, otherwise known as seasonal streams, don’t as consistently carry water. Generally, they contain water during periods when water flows from upstream and the groundwater supplies adequate water to flow. Precipitation runoff supplements the upstream flow and groundwater. When weather patterns turn dry, intermittent streams may lack flowing surface water.
  • Canal or ditch: As an artificial water feature, meaning that it doesn’t occur naturally, a general canal or ditch exists to move water, irrigate or drain land, link at least two water bodies or provide a passage for watercraft to move.
  • Pipelines carrying water: The pipelines measured by AgSite are closed conduits designed to carry water. They operate by using pumps, valves and control devices.
  • Other streams: Stream feet included in the “other streams” category are for streams that are not included in the previous categories and that lack further classification. An ephemeral stream would be an example of an “other stream.”

Persons who own property with streams exposure should understand the responsibilities associated with managing those streams and adhering to the necessary regulations. Recently, the Clean Water Rule, which may otherwise be known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, intended to better describe water bodies subject to Clean Water Act provisions. The measure articulates the types of waters that need protection to ensure that traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and territorial seas have their chemical, physical and biological integrity preserved. The final Clean Water Rule, published in 2015, outlined eight types of waters that would qualify as jurisdictional waters of the U.S. Those eight categories are 1) traditional navigable waters; 2) interstate waters; 3) territorial seas; 4) impoundments of jurisdictional waters; 5) tributaries; 6) adjacent waters; 7) waters that based on a case-specific analysis alone represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas; and 8) waters that based on a case-specific analysis combine with other nearby waters to represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas. A significant nexus refers to the circumstance when a water body contributes to having a significant chemical, physical or biological effect on traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas.

If this AgSite report indicates any streams, it would be advisable to request a “jurisdictional determination” from the Army Corp of Engineers before making changes to the landscape. If this AgSite report does not indicate a stream, it does not necessarily mean that the Clean Water Rule does not apply to this land.

With respect to tributaries, the Clean Water Rule explains that a tributary must have both 1) a bed and bank and 2) an ordinary high water mark. They must also directly or indirectly flow into a traditional navigable water, interstate water or territorial sea. For tributaries meeting these standards, they qualify as waters of the U.S. According to the final Clean Water Rule, tributary streams that are perennial; intermittent; and ephemeral, meaning that they rely on rainfall and other precipitation to flow, have chemical, physical and biological linkages to downstream waters. If a stream lacks the tributary characteristics, however, then the rule excludes it from being jurisdictional.

Canals and ditches may also be recognized as tributaries and jurisdictional waters in the Clean Water Rule. For example, the final rule states that canals that act as tributaries and move water within tributary networks have been regarded as waters of the U.S. For a ditch to be regulated, it must satisfy conditions described for tributaries, meaning that it has a bed and bank, and ordinary high water mark and directly or indirectly contributes flow to a traditional navigable water, interstate water or territorial sea. For example, a ditch would be jurisdictional if it acts as a relocated tributary, was constructed in a tributary or otherwise operates as a tributary. The Clean Water Act also excludes some ditches. For example, if a ditch with ephemeral flow doesn’t act as a relocated tributary or wasn’t excavated in a tributary, then it wouldn’t be jurisdictional.

For pipelines, if a pipeline acts as a constructed “break” in a tributary system but the water body has a bed and bank, and ordinary high water mark that precede the break upstream, then the Clean Water Rule still considers that water body to be a tributary.

Assistance Programs:

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources created the Our Missouri Waters initiative to promote water quality standard adherence. The initiative emphasizes action at the local watershed level. The effort has a three-prong approach. It seeks to support watershed planning, assist with identifying watershed-level issues and apply tools to respond to such watershed-level issues. For more information, go to http://dnr.mo.gov/omw/OMWWatersheds.htm.

Local soil and water conservation programs may provide landowners with technical and financial assistance that they can use to preserve water. Funded by a parks, soils and water sales tax, Missouri soil and water conservation cost-share assistance may help landowners to implement conservation practices. Local district offices may provide as much as 75 percent cost-share assistance for eligible activities. Examples of water-related practices that the soil and water conservation program may entertain include those that preserve groundwater and focus on irrigation management, runoff control and water conservation. For more information, go to http://dnr.mo.gov/env/swcp/service/index.html.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reaches agricultural producers with both financial and technical assistance. The program caters to efforts that promote natural resource conservation and create benefits such as enhancing water quality, protecting ground water and surface water and mitigating soil erosion and sedimentation. For more information about EQIP, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides Conservation Technical Assistance to support private, tribal and non-federal land management. Through this technical assistance program, landowners may benefit in several areas. Those include learning strategies to preserve and enhance water quality and quantity and promote sustainability. The Conservation Technical Assistance program provides resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring assistance, and it also offers follow-up support. Knowledge and conservation plans developed from the technical assistance could well-position landowners to access financial or cost-share assistance that aid conservation efforts. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/cta/.

As a financial assistance program, the Conservation Stewardship Program pays agricultural producers who adopt conservation-minded practices on their operations and improve conservation performance. Specifically, the program emphasizes practices that may enhance soil quality, water quality and quantity, air quality, habitat quality and energy conservation. The program includes two payment types. First, annual payments are available for participants who add or maintain conservation activities. Second, participants may earn supplemental payments if they use a crop rotation that conserves resources. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/.

Sources and Other Resources:


Water Bodies

The AgSite report differentiates water bodies as rivers, lakes and ponds, swamps and marshes and other water bodies. Their physical attributes and other features distinguish one type of water body from another. The following definitions clarify differences among the water bodies reported in AgSite. The AgSite report measures these water features by area in acres.

  • Rivers: Rivers capitalize on gravity moving water from high altitudes to lower altitudes. Water flowing in rivers may originate from precipitation runoff or groundwater. Groundwater forms when precipitation trickles below the Earth’s surface. At levels lower than the water table, water can saturate the ground. River banks can tap into the groundwater, and when they do, groundwater can enter into the river’s flow.
  • Lakes and ponds: Generally, lakes and ponds take two different forms. First, they include standing water bodies shaped by natural shorelines and surrounded by land. Second, they include dammed flooded river systems designed to retain water. Lakes and ponds may be designated by name.
  • Swamps and marshes: Water saturates swamps and marshes for much of a given year. These areas don’t undergo cultivation, and they’re home to vegetation that can withstand the saturated soil. Like lands and ponds, swamps and marshes may be named.
  • Other water bodies: The water bodies represented in the “other” category are those that exist in the National Hydrography Dataset, but lack another classification.

Persons who own property with exposure to water bodies should understand the responsibilities associated with managing those and adhering to the necessary regulations. Recently, the Clean Water Rule, which may otherwise be known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, intended to better describe water bodies subject to Clean Water Act provisions. The measure articulates the types of waters that need protection to ensure that traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and territorial seas have their chemical, physical and biological integrity preserved. The final Clean Water Rule, published in 2015, outlined eight types of waters that would qualify as jurisdictional waters of the U.S. Those eight categories are 1) traditional navigable waters; 2) interstate waters; 3) territorial seas; 4) impoundments of jurisdictional waters; 5) tributaries; 6) adjacent waters; 7) waters that based on a case-specific analysis alone represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas; and 8) waters that based on a case-specific analysis combine with other nearby waters to represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas. A significant nexus refers to the circumstance when a water body contributes to having a significant chemical, physical or biological effect on traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas.

If this AgSite report indicates any waterbodies, it would be advisable to request a “jurisdictional determination” from the Army Corp of Engineers before making changes to the landscape. If this AgSite report does not indicate a waterbody, it does not necessarily mean that the Clean Water Rule does not apply to this land.

The Clean Water Rule’s adjacent waters provision would apply to water features such as ponds, lakes, oxbows and impoundments. The rule affects adjacent waters that influence the chemical, physical or biological integrity of downstream waters. To be considered adjacent, a water must border, neighbor or be contiguous to another water. The Clean Water Rule outlines three conditions that would create a “neighboring” water scenario. First, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within 100 feet of an ordinary high water mark of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea, jurisdictional water impoundment or tributary. Second, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within the 100-year floodplain and within 1,500 feet of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea, impoundment or tributary’s ordinary high water mark. Third, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within 1,500 feet of a traditional navigable water or territorial sea’s high tide or within 1,500 feet of the Great Lakes’ ordinary high water mark.

The adjacency provision doesn’t apply to waters where normal farming, ranching and silviculture activities occur. For example, wetlands and farm ponds involved in normal farming activities would not be jurisdictional adjacent waters. The extent of protecting waters affected by normal farming, ranching and silviculture activities will vary and depend on a case-specific review. “Normal” activities typically are those considered to be established and ongoing.

Educational Resources:

To teach about pond and lake management, Penn State Extension coordinates a Pond Management Home Study Course. Organized in six lessons, the course content includes pond maintenance, aquatic plants and algae and attracting and managing wildlife. Penn State Extension posts the course materials, including narrated presentations, videos and guide sheets, online at http://extension.psu.edu/courses/pond-management.

Available from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Pond Handbook shares information about constructing a pond, managing new and old ponds and resolving challenges encountered in pond management. To access the handbook, go to http://mdc.mo.gov/your-property/improve-your-property/pond-improvements/resource/missouri-pond-handbook.

Assistance Programs:

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reaches agricultural producers with both financial and technical assistance. The program caters to efforts that promote natural resource conservation and create benefits such as enhancing water quality, protecting ground water and surface water and mitigating soil erosion and sedimentation. For more information about EQIP, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides Conservation Technical Assistance to support private, tribal and non-federal land management. Through this technical assistance program, landowners may benefit in several areas. Those include learning strategies to preserve and enhance water quality and quantity and promote sustainability. The Conservation Technical Assistance program provides resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring assistance, and it also offers follow-up support. Knowledge and conservation plans developed from the technical assistance could well-position landowners to access financial or cost-share assistance that aid conservation efforts. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/cta/.

As a financial assistance program, the Conservation Stewardship Program pays agricultural producers who adopt conservation-minded practices on their operations and improve conservation performance. Specifically, the program emphasizes practices that may enhance soil quality, water quality and quantity, air quality, habitat quality and energy conservation. The program includes two payment types. First, annual payments are available for participants who add or maintain conservation activities. Second, participants may earn supplemental payments if they use a crop rotation that conserves resources. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/.

Sources and Other Resources:


Wetlands

Typically, wetlands form between open water bodies and uplands areas. They’re considered ecotones or transitional areas, and three features characterize them. First, during the growing season, wetlands may flood or become water-saturated. Second, during most of a year, wetlands have saturated soils. Third, hydrophytes make wetlands their home. These plants persist well in wet environments. Some wetlands can be easily identified. Others, however, are more difficult to distinguish because they’re not consistently wet or their characteristics aren’t as apparent.

Within the U.S., two types of wetlands exist: coastal wetlands and inland wetlands. Coastal wetlands hug ocean, lake and gulf shorelines and banks of rivers and bays that feed into these waters and are found near the Atlantic, Pacific, Great Lakes and Gulf coasts. Conversely, the country’s interior has inland wetlands. They’re typically located by rivers and streams, dry land depressions and lake and pond banks. Inland wetlands may be further categorized in groups such as marshes, wet meadows, shrub swamps and wooded swamps.

AgSite reports classify wetlands according to categories established in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory. The inventory breaks down wetlands into types and offers the following descriptions of each:

  • Freshwater, forested and shrub wetland: forested swamp or wetland shrub bog or wetland
  • Freshwater emergent wetland: herbaceous marsh, fen, swale and wet meadow
  • Freshwater pond: pond
  • Estuarine and marine wetland: vegetated and non-vegetated brackish and saltwater marsh, shrubs, beach, bar, shoal or flat
  • Riverine: river or stream channel
  • Lakes: lake or reservoir basin
  • Estuarine and marine deepwater: open water estuary, bay, sound or open ocean
  • Other freshwater wetland: farmed wetland, saline seep and other miscellaneous wetland

Within an AgSite report’s Wetlands section, clicking “View map” will generate a map of the area surrounding the selected site, and the map distinguishes wetland areas with color, based on data from the National Wetlands Inventory. Left mouse clicking over a wetland brings up an information box of the wetland attributes. In the “Map Layers” window, users can choose to display various reference map features, such as place names, place boundaries, topographic features and satellite images. By selecting the “Tools” window, users may choose to “Query Data.” Using the drop-down menu, users may query the wetlands data and search for a type of wetland by name or code. Alternatively, users may search for wetlands by their size in acres. After performing a data query that generates results, click “Show Attribute Table” to learn more about the searched wetlands.

In many cases, wetlands make positive ecological contributions. For example, in Missouri, they support many plant species, including duckweed, water lilies, cattails and reeds. Missouri wetlands also provide a home to 200 types of plants and animals that are rare or endangered. More than 25 percent of nesting and migratory birds in the state rely on wetlands, and wetlands support 43 different amphibian species in Missouri.

Persons who own property with wetlands exposure should understand the responsibilities associated with managing those areas and adhering to the necessary regulations. Recently, the Clean Water Rule, which may otherwise be known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, intended to better describe water bodies subject to Clean Water Act provisions. The measure articulates the types of waters that need protection to ensure that traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and territorial seas have their chemical, physical and biological integrity preserved. The final Clean Water Rule, published in 2015, outlined eight types of waters that would qualify as jurisdictional waters of the U.S. Those eight categories are 1) traditional navigable waters; 2) interstate waters; 3) territorial seas; 4) impoundments of jurisdictional waters; 5) tributaries; 6) adjacent waters; 7) waters that based on a case-specific analysis alone represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas; or 8) waters that based on a case-specific analysis combine with other nearby waters to represent a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas. A significant nexus refers to the circumstance when a water body contributes to having a significant chemical, physical or biological effect on traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or territorial seas.

Wetlands may qualify for protection through the “adjacent waters” provision. Other examples of adjacent waters include ponds, lakes, oxbows and impoundments. The rule affects adjacent waters that influence the chemical, physical or biological integrity of downstream waters. To be considered adjacent, a water must border, neighbor or be contiguous to another water, and the Clean Water Rule outlines three conditions for “neighboring” waters. First, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within 100 feet of an ordinary high water mark of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea, jurisdictional water impoundment or tributary. Second, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within the 100-year floodplain and within 1,500 feet of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea, impoundment or tributary’s ordinary high water mark. Third, neighboring waters are those with at least part of their area situated within 1,500 feet of a traditional navigable water or territorial sea’s high tide or within 1,500 feet of the Great Lakes’ ordinary high water mark.

The adjacency provision doesn’t apply to waters where normal farming, ranching and silviculture activities occur. For example, wetlands and farm ponds involved in normal farming activities would not be jurisdictional adjacent waters. The extent of protecting waters affected by normal farming, ranching and silviculture activities will vary and depend on a case-specific review. “Normal” activities typically are those considered to be established and ongoing.

Educational Resources:

At the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Wetland Team supports training efforts that educate participants about wetlands areas. The team has a few training modules available online, and it also conducts a series of in-person courses throughout the country. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/nedc/training/wetlands/.

The Missouri Department of Conservation created a guide to assist landowners in managing wetlands. To access it, go to http://mdc.mo.gov/your-property/improve-your-property/wetland-improvements-0.

Assistance Programs:

Historically, the U.S. hasn’t preserved its wetlands very well. The USGS reports that more than half the original U.S. wetlands have been eliminated. Commonly, lost wetlands were transitioned into farmland, residential or commercial areas or landfills. For landowners interested in maintaining the health of wetlands on their properties, several assistance programs and resources are available. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides Conservation Technical Assistance to support private, tribal and non-federal land management. Through this technical assistance program, landowners may benefit in several areas. Those include learning strategies to preserve and enhance water quality and quantity and promote sustainability. The Conservation Technical Assistance program provides resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring assistance, and it also offers follow-up support. Knowledge and conservation plans developed from the technical assistance could well-position landowners to access financial or cost-share assistance that aid conservation efforts. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/cta/.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reaches agricultural producers with both financial and technical assistance. The program caters to efforts that promote natural resource conservation and create benefits such as enhancing water quality, protecting ground water and surface water and mitigating soil erosion and sedimentation. For more information about EQIP, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/.

As a financial assistance program, the Conservation Stewardship Program pays agricultural producers who adopt conservation-minded practices on their operations and improve conservation performance. Specifically, the program emphasizes practices that may enhance soil quality, water quality and quantity, air quality, habitat quality and energy conservation. The program includes two payment types. First, annual payments are available for participants who add or maintain conservation activities. Second, participants may earn supplemental payments if they use a crop rotation that conserves resources. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/.

Sources and Other Resources:


Hydrologic Units

The Watershed Boundary Dataset divides watersheds, which are land areas that drain into lakes, rivers or wetlands, into levels that are identified using hydrologic unit codes (HUC). Developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service National Cartographic and Geospatial Center, the dataset uses a hierarchical approach to differentiate hydrologic units. It’s a system recognized nationwide. The system characterizes hydrologic geographies in six different levels and uses as many as 12 digits per code to identify these areas. With each successive level, codes add two digits and become smaller geographically in size. The following table describes the codes for regions. The largest geographic areas described using HUCs have two digits and are considered level one. Those for subwatersheds, which are the smallest geographic units described with HUCs, have 12 digits and are considered level six.

Hydrologic Unit Hierarchy

HU-3

Source: USGS, Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) Facts

The following maps illustrate that codes with more digits correlate to smaller geographic areas. They color code Missouri’s eight-, 10- and 12-digit hydrologic units. Missouri has more than 65 subbasins, which have eight-digit hydrologic unit codes. However, the state has nearly 2,000 subwatersheds, which have 12-digit hydrologic unit codes.

Distribution of Missouri Level 4, Level 5 and Level 6 Hydrologic Units

Hyrdological Units


Source: Data Development for the National Watershed Boundary Dataset: Mapping Missouri’s 12-Digit Hydrologic Units

Within an AgSite report, click “View map” beside the 12-Digit Hydrologic Units heading to generate a map that outlines surrounding 12-digit hydrologic units in the area, based on data from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Users may need to zoom out from their evaluation site to see different hydrologic units. The map contains the watershed name and boundary lines for the watersheds. By left mouse clicking on an area on the map, a table of attributes becomes visible.

In the “Map Layers” window, users can choose to display various reference map features, such as place names, place boundaries, topographic features and satellite images. By selecting the “Tools” window, users may choose to “Query Data.” Using the drop-down menu, users may query the hydrologic unit data and search for a specific unit by name or code. The other data query options are for acres, area in square kilometers and states. After performing a data query that generates results, click “Show Attribute Table” to learn more about the searched hydrologic units. After a query has been run, users may hover over a given hydrologic unit to view its attributes. The following map, which was generated as a hydrologic unit data query, outlines subwatershed regions that surround Columbia, Mo. It identifies the Middle Hinkson Creek subwatershed as hydrologic unit 103001020602.

12-Digit Hydrologic Units Surrounding Columbia, Mo.

Hydrological Units Image 2

Watersheds occupy several important roles in local communities. Clean water from healthy watersheds provide drinking water and recreational opportunities, and aquatic life and other wildlife also rely on watersheds. Keeping watersheds healthy may blunt the effects of climate and land use changes, and they can reduce flood-related damages.

 Educational Resources:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers an online training course that focuses on watershed management. The modules fit into seven categories: overview, watershed ecology, watershed change, analysis and planning, management practices, community and social implications and water law. To learn more about the online training course and the corresponding Watershed Academy Certificate Program, go to http://cfpub.epa.gov/watertrain/index.cfm.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also created a handbook that organizations may use to create and execute plans for local watersheds. To see the handbook, go to http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/handbook_index.cfm#how.

Assistance Programs:

The Missouri Watershed Information Network consolidates many types of watershed-related resources into its website: http://www.mowin.org/. From this site, users may access educational information, link to possible watershed funding resources and learn about other assistance materials that are available.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers financial and technical assistance to public and private landowners through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The assistance reaches areas where natural disasters have caused emergencies. However, to seek assistance, areas that have suffered severe damage don’t necessarily require a national emergency declaration. Most program components require landowners to partner with a project sponsor, such as a city, county, general improvement district, conservation district or Native American tribe or tribal organization. The program’s assistance formats include cleaning debris from stream channels, road culverts and brides; addressing erosion on banks; and fixing damage to drainage facilities. The program also includes a provision for purchasing floodplain easements that repeatedly flood. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/ewp/.

Sources and Other Resources:

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