BEQI Home
Water Home
Water Basics
Water Consumption in Bloomington
Bloomington and Monroe County Environmental Water Quality
Water FAQs

Please Note: This section of the BEQI report is currently in the process of being revised. Expect updates in the near future.

Navigating this Page:

Introduction

Water quality is an excellent indicator of the overall health of the environment. It is influenced not only by water pollution itself, but also by air pollution, agricultural runoff, vehicle emissions, land development, the amount of impervious surface in the surrounding watershed, and urbanization in general.

Because of the variety of potential sources of water pollution it can be difficult to directly identify and mitigate threats to water quality. Citizens can play a significant role in contributing to water quality problems through their daily activities, but can also help improve water quality through practices such as using alternative transportation, planning landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff, and applying fertilizers and pesticides judiciously (or not at all). Government also plays a significant role by ensuring that developers adhere to strict water protection measures and by minimizing development in sensitive watersheds. Encouraging low-impact development is one way that local government can improve water quality. Ultimately, however, the protection of water quality requires the commitment and cooperation of citizens and all levels of government.

Data on environmental water quality in Bloomington indicates that many local lakes and streams in the Bloomington area are impaired for at least one designated use. Because many waterbodies have not recently been assessed for various water quality parameters, it is possible that more waterways are impaired than the available data shows.

Erosion and sedimentation are problems in many streams and all of the reservoirs in Monroe County, degrading water quality and reducing the streams' ability to support healthy aquatic communities. Eroding streambanks as well as runoff from developed or disturbed areas, such as construction sites, can contribute to the problem. Algae blooms and E. coli contamination are also an issue in some areas.

Contamination from toxic substances is also a source of concern in Bloomington's lakes and streams. Along with the residual effects of historic PCB contamination, stormwater runoff from urban areas contributes toxic chemicals (such as mercury) to some Bloomington area waterbodies. For the most up-to-date information on contamination in local fish, please consult the Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Report.

The latest Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Report can be downloaded here from the Indiana State Department of Health's website.

Indiana's Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report

Most of the stream and lake water quality data in this report is sourced from Indiana's Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report. This document, also known as Indiana's 305(b) water quality report, is single most comprehensive and regularly updated report containing data on environmental water quality in the Bloomington area. This document is updated biannually by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Each year's updates include new monitoring data for approximately one-fifth of the state's surface waters each year, which are surveyed on a five-year rotational basis.

The most recent Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report for the state of Indiana can be found on IDEM's website or here in pdf form.

The Integrated Report classifies how well waterbodies meet each of their designated uses using a five category classification scheme. However, the 1-5 categories DO NOT represent a simple scale of increasing impairment intensity. IDEM's classification designations can be seen in Table 1. Waterbodies currently meeting all applicable water quality standards for a given designated use are said to be unimpaired and fully supporting that designated use. Those currently meeting water quality standards but expected to not meet them within the next reporting cycle are called threatened for a given designated use. Waterbodies currently failing water quality standards are said to be impaired and not supportive of a given designated use.

Table 1: IDEM's Waterbody Classification System

Understanding the Integrated Report's Waterbody Classification System

Category 1: The waterbody meets all applicable water quality standards and is therefore unimpaired for all of its designated uses 1.

Category 2: The waterbody is unimpaired for a given designated use but has not been tested for or hasbeen found to not meet the water quality standards for at least one other designated use 2.

Category 3: There is insufficient data to assign a waterbody an impairment level for a given designated use. In this report, such situations are indicated as "not assessed."

A lack of data does not mean a waterbody is unimpaired for a given designated use.

Category 4: The waterbody is impaired for a designated use, but does not require development of a TMDL as an impairment management plan. This can be for one of three reasons:

4A: A TMDL has already been approved for the site.

4B: Pollution control requirements other than a TMDL are anticipated to result in the waterbody meeting the water quality standards for all designated uses "in a reasonable period of time 3."

4C: The impairment is not caused by a pollutant.

A TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) is a pollution management plan that involves calculating the maximum amount of a pollutant a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards.

Category 5: The waterbody is impaired for a designated use and requires the development of a TMDL as a population management plan.

5A: The waterbody is impaired or threatened for a given designated use, based on data other than fish tissue contamination, such as a study of the abundance and diversity of aquatic species in the waterbody in question.

5B: The waterbody is impaired for a given designated use, based on findings of contaminant concentrations of >0.3 mg/kg mercury and/or >0.02 mg/kg PCB contamination in fish tissue.

For additional background about Indiana's Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report, please see Water Basics: Monitoring and Major Assessment Reports. For a detailed explanation of the impairment level designations used by IDEM, visit IDEM's Consolidated List classification overview.

Streams

Support for Designated Uses

Indiana's 2008 Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report contains many data gaps. Also, tnterpretation of the data that is available for local streams requires a nuanced take because IDEM samples certain streams in multiple locations and each location may yield different test results.

However, patterns do emerge. Of those locations that were assessed for 2008, all Bloomington area streams except the South Fork of Griffy Creek were deemed as fully supportive of aquatic life. Bank erosion and high levels of sediment loading is a general concern. Of streams accessed for their ability to support fish consumption by humans, all but the North Fork of Salt Creek were found to be impaired (note: the Indiana State Department of Health advised citizens to not eat more than one carp over 23 inches in length per week from North Fork Salt Creek, due to mercury contamination, and to eat no fish from Salt Creek south of Clear Creek 4). Of streams accessed for their ability to support recreational use, all but Salt Creek were found to be impaired. Finally, no streams in the Bloomington area are tapped as a source of public drinking water, so the ability of streams to support drinking water supply was not studied.

Contaminants of Concern

A variety of parameters of concern exist for Bloomington's streams. Improperly maintained septic systems are an ongoing concern in the Bloomington area because they can contribute to E. coli contamination in local streams. In 2008, the Bloomington area streams found to have E. coli contamination were Clear Creek and the South Fork of Griffy Creek. PCB contamination was found in Beanblossom Creek, Clear Creek, the South Fork of Griffy Creek, and Bucky Creek/Muddy Fork. Mercury contamination has been detected in Clear Creek, the South Fork of Griffy Creek, Jackson Creek, and Little Clear Creek. Much of the contamination is likely conveyed to Bloomington's streams in the form of polluted stormwater runoff.

Featured Streams

Beanblossom Creek

Water Quality Indicators for Beanblossom Creek by Assessment Unit

Indicator

Value at Assessment Units (AUs)

INW0214_T1053,

INW0215_T1004,

and INW0216_T1005

+

Value at AUs

INW0218_T1006,

INW0219_T1007,

and INW021A_T1008

+

Data Source

Last Updated

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Impaired: 4A++

Impaired: 4A++

*

2008

Fishable Use

Not Assessed

Impaired: 5B

*

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Unimpaired: 2++

Unimpaired: 2++

*

2008

Total Number of Impairments

None

1

*

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

None

PCBs in Fish Tissue

**

2008

Indicator Data Sources

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Notes

+

To account for variations in impairment level at different sections of Beanblossom Creek, IDEM assesses Beanblossom Creek at six different locations.

++

See Table 1 for an explanation of the Integrated Report codes 2 and 4A.

PCB contamination in fish tissue is an ongoing threat to the water quality of Beanblossom Creek. The degree of impairment in Beanblossom Creek varies along the length of the waterway, with some stretches were only slightly impaired and others being highly impaired. An encouraging finding for Beanblossom Creek is that E.Coli detected in IDEM's 2004 Integrated Report 5 was not detected in the more recent 2008 assessment. The possibility of E. coli contamination in local waterways, particularly from failing septic systems, is a continuing concern in the Bloomington area.

Clear Creek

Water Quality Indicators for Clear Creek by Assessment Unit

Indicator

Value at Assessment Unit (AU)INW0891_T1020+

Value at AU INW0892_T1021+

Value at AU INW0893_T1022+

Data Source

Last Updated

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Impaired: 5A

*

2008

Fishable Use

Not Assessed

Impaired: 5B

Impaired: 5B

*

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Unimpaired: 2++

Not Assessed

Unimpaired: 2++

*

2008

Total Number of Impairments

None

1

3

*

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

None

PCBs in Fish Tissue

E. coli, Mercury in Fish Tissue, PCBs in Fish Tissue

*; **

2008

Indicator Data Sources

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Notes

+

To account for variations in impairment level at different sections of Clear Creek, IDEM assesses Clear Creek at three different locations.

++

See Table 1 for an explanation of the Integrated Report code 2.

Riparian habitat damage, sedimentation, excess nutrients and algae, toxic substances, and sewage-related problems contribute to severe habitat degradation in some stretches of Clear Creek 6. In Indiana's most recent Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report, Clear Creek was in multiple locations not assessed for its ability to support certain designated uses. However, the data that is available shows that certain stretches of Clear Creek are impaired by contamination from E. coli, mercury, and PCBs. These findings are consistent with the history of Clear Creek, which has consistently been described as impaired by the presence of toxic contaminants 7.

As discussed in the PCBs portion of the BEQI waste section and the Environmental Commission's Toxics Report and accompanying Impaired Waterways Map, Clear Creek became contaminated with PCBs during the 1960s and 1970s when the Winston-Thomas sewage treatment plant (which discharged into Clear Creek) received contaminated wastewater from the Westinghouse Electric Corporation plant 8. Westinghouse used PCBs in the manufacturing of electrical capacitors. Bloomington residents are advised not to consume any fish from Clear Creek 9 due to PCB contamination.

Clear Creek is also impacted in Bloomington by the Dillman Road Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges treated wastewater into the stream. Dillman Road adheres to strict standards regarding the chemical composition of its effluent and monitors the water quality of Clear Creek at their discharge location.

As is true of any discharge, however, the effluent from Clear Creek does locally impact Clear Creek's water chemistry. Annual sampling of Clear Creek by limonology graduate students in Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (IU SPEA)10 indicates that just downstream of Dillman Road is where the stream has the highest water temperature and lowest dissolved oxygen content of any Clear Creek site sampled. However, both parameters soon return to upstream site levels, suggesting that Dillman Road is successfully managing their effluent in such a way as to have minimal impact on the receiving stream. A similar temporary peak in nitrate levels occurs in Clear Creek just downstream of Dillman Road. Downstream nitrate levels were not found to return all the way down to those found upstream of Dillman Road.

Griffy Creek (and South Fork Griffy Creek)

Water Quality Indicators for Griffy Creek

Indicator

Griffy Creek Value

South Fork Griffy Creek Value

Data Source

Last Updated

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed Not Assessed

*

2008

Fishable Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

*

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Unimpaired: 2

(See Table 1)

Impaired: 5A

*

2008

Total Number of Impairments

None

1

*

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

None

Impaired Biological Communities; Mercury and PCBs in Fish Tissue; E.Coli

**

2008

Indicator Data Source

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Integrated Report data for 2008 showed that the South Fork of Griffy Creek is the most severely impaired of the Griffy Creek tributaries, most likely due to development in the northeast part of Bloomington. This finding is consistent with IDEM's Integrated Report from 2004 11. IDEM's 2008 data describes the South Fork as impaired for the support of aquatic life due to the presence of E. coli as well as mercury and PCBs in fish tissue 12.

On a positive note, the main (northern) fork of Griffy Creek was reported to be unimpaired for the support of aquatic life. However, neither the main nor southern forks of Griffy Creek were assessed for their ability to support fishing or recreational use in the 2008 Integrated Report.

Jackson Creek

Water Quality Indicators for Jackson Creek

Indicator

Value at "Jackson Creek" Assessment Unit (AU)

East Fork Jackson Creek

Unnamed Tributary of Jackson Creek

Data Source

Last Updated

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

*

2008

Fishable Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

*

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

*

2008

Total Number of Impairments

No Value Provided

No Value Provided

No Value Provided

*

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

None Given

Mercury in Fish Tissue

Mercury in Fish Tissue

*

2008

Indicator Data Source

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Indiana's 2008 Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report did not include updated assessment data for how well Jackson Creek is supporting its designated uses. However, mercury was detected in the tissue of fish from the assessment units of "east fork Jackson Creek" and "unnamed tributary of Jackson Creek 13."

Stout Creek

Water Quality Indicators for Stout Creek

Indicator

Value

Data Source

Last Updated

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

*

2008

Fishable Use

Not Assessed

*

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Unimpaired: 2+

*

2008

Total Number of Impairments

None

*

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

None

*

2008

Indicator Data Source

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Notes

+

See Table 1 for an explanation of the Integrated Report code 2.

Stout Creek is located north of Bloomington. Indiana's 2008 Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report indicates that the Creek fully supports (i.e., is unimpaired for) the designated use of supporting aquatic life 14.

However, Stout Creek has historically been a site of mercury 15 and PCB contamination16. Updated data was not included in the Integrated Report for designated uses other than the support of aquatic life. Cleanup of the source of PCBs in Stout Creek, Bennett's Dump, has yet to be completed 17.

Other Local Streams

Water Quality Indicators for Other Local Streams

Stream Name

305(b) Support Level Value by Designated Use+++

Total Number of Impairments

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

Data Source

Late Updated

Recreational Use

Fishable Use

Aquatic Life Use

Buck Creek / Muddy Fork

Impaired: 5A

Not Assessed

Unimpaired: 2++

No Value Provided

PCBs in Fish Tissue

*

2008

Ramp Creek

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

No Value Provided

None Given

*

2008

Little Clear Creek

Unimpaired: 2++

Impaired: 5B

Unimpaired: 2++

1

Mercury in Fish Tissue

*;**

2008

Saddle Creek

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

No Value Provided

None Given

*

2008

Moore Creek

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

No Value Provided

None Given

*

2008

Jacks Defeat Creek

Impaired: 4A++

Not Assessed

Unimpaired: 2++

0

None

*

2008

North Fork Salt Creek

Not Assessed

Unimpaired: 2++

Unimpaired: 2++

0

None

*

2008

Salt Creek+

Unimpaired: 2++

Not Assessed

Unimpaired: 2++

0

None

*

2008

Indicator Data Source

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

Notes

+

Clear Creek is divided into two assessment units (INW0886_T1026 & INW0893_T1025). For 2008, the indicator values for both AUs were are same.

++

See Table 1 for an explanation of the Integrated Report codes 2 and 4A.

+++

None of the streams listed on this chart have drinking water as a designated use.

In IDEM's 2008 Integrated Report 18 the ability of many streams to support a certain designated use was not accessed. Among those that were assessed, contaminants of concern include PCBs in the Muddy Fork/Buck Creek area as well as mercury in Little Clear Creek. Information about other streams located further from Bloomington than those in listed in the tables in this section of the report, but still located in Monroe County, can be found in appendix B of Indiana's Integrated Report.

Discussion

Riparian habitat restoration would improve the water quality of local streams by reducing pollutant and sediment inflows. Implementation of stormwater management techniques and strict adherence to erosion control measures in construction sites could also reduce the flow of pollutants into Bloomington's streams. In addition to restoring natural ecosystems, improved riparian habitats could also enhance the outdoor recreation opportunities available in Bloomington.

Education and community cooperation are required to reverse urban stream degradation within the City. Bloomington residents can play an important part in protecting the region's water resources by supporting zoning regulations that protect water quality, maintaining septic systems, and otherwise avoiding actions that contribute to sedimentation or other forms of water pollution.

Lakes

Support for Designated Uses

Unfortunately, the ability of Bloomington's lakes to support aquatic life and recreational use was not assessed in Indiana's 2008 305(b) Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report. Griffy Lake, Lake Lemon, and Lake Monroe were each found to be impaired for fishable use due to mercury contamination. As the only of the three lakes currently used as a source of drinking water, only Lake Monroe was assessed for drinking water use.

Contaminants of Concern

Mercury contamination in fish tissue is a concern for Lakes Griffy, Lemon and Monroe 19. Detectable levels of PCB contamination in fish were not found in any of these three lakes in Indiana's 2008 305(b) Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report, though PCBs were detected in certain local streams 20. In addition to mercury contamination, the Integrated Report states that Lake Monroe's has poor taste and odor issues and is impaired by high levels of algal production 21. Finally, like most lakes, Bloomington's reservoirs remain at risk for having biological communities disrupted by the presence of non-native invasive species.

Trophic Status

In addition to providing an assessment of how well waterbodies are meeting their designated uses, IDEM's Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report for Indiana also indicates the trophic status of lakes. This data can be found in Appendix G of the Intergrated Report, entitled "Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes 22."

A lake's trophic status is an indicator of the level of biological productivity that lake is able to support, especially in terms of plant and algal growth. Lakes that support high amounts of productivity are called eutrophic. Lakes that support little or no biological productivity are called oligotrophic, and lakes supporting an intermediate level of productivity are called mesotrophic. For a more detailed explanation of trophic status, its implications, and how it is measured, please click here.

The 2008 Indiana Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report for Indiana classifies Lake Lemon as eutrophic and Griffy Lake and both the upper and lower portions of Lake Monroe as mesotrophic 23. However, the report does note that all four of Bloomington's major lake assessment units (Griffy Lake, Lake Lemon, Upper Monroe Reservoir, and Lower Monroe Reservoir) fluctuate somewhat in their trophic status 24. Fertilizer runoff entering the lakes from cropland and lawns within Bloomington's watershed can lead to accelerated eutrophication and large algal blooms.

Specific Lakes

Griffy Lake

Water Quality Indicators for Griffy Lake (Officially Griffy Reservoir)

Indicator

Value

Data Source

Last Updated

Area (Acres)

130

*

2008

Trophic Status

Mesotrophic

*

2008

Trophic Trend

Fluctuating

*

2008

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

**

2008

Fishable Use

Impaired: 5B

**

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Not Assessed

**

2008

Total Number of Impairments

1

**

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

Mercury in Fish Tissue

**

2008

Indicator Data Sources

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix G: Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

I. Background:

Griffy Lake, situated in Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, is a unique resource for the Bloomington community because of its proximity to downtown. Affording recreational opportunities from hiking, canoeing, and fishing to just having a picnic with friends, Griffy Lake offers everyone in Bloomington a chance to get out and enjoy nature. Recent exciting news for the lake includes the City's receiving of a $1.5 million grant to repair Griffy Lake's dam. This project, starting in July 2012, will allow for greater control of lake levels and improve the quality of Lake Griffy as boating destination 25.

II. Current conditions and concerns:

Griffy Lake's trophic status has shifted from eutrophic in the 1970s (Trophic State Index scores of 45-75) to mesotrophic (TSI scores of 40 to 50) in the 1990s 26. These scores correspond with a tenfold reduction in phosphorus levels in Griffy Lake between the 1970s and 1990s 27. The reduction in phosphorus loading has reduced algal bloom problems in Griffy Lake 28.

However, while some aspects of water quality have improved, invasive species management, deforestation and development in the surrounding watershed, and increased sediment loading remain significant challenges29. Additionally, IDEM lists Griffy Lake impaired due to mercury contamination in fish tissue 30, 31. The Department of Health warns residents that meals including largemouth bass larger than 13 inches caught at Griffy Lake should be limited to one per month32. Invasive aquatic plants are a severe problem in Griffy Lake 33. Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed have inhabited Griffy Lake for over 20 years 34, but Brazilian elodea is a relative newcomer, having first been identified in 1999 35.

As mentioned, sedimentation rates into Griffy Lake also continue to be a point of concern. At the mouth of Griffy Creek, a large sediment delta and marshy area continues to expand. Erosion from construction sites and other unprotected areas, along with decreasing forest cover in the middle and south forks of Griffy Creek, are probably responsible. In 2004, sampling of the middle and south forks showed sediment levels considerably higher than those in the relatively pristine north fork 36. There are also concerns regarding the chemical content of the sediments in Griffy Lake. Analysis of Griffy Lake sediment has also found arsenic at levels that exceed IDEM guidelines, with the highest detected concentration of arsenic in the lake's sediments being 19 mg/kg 37.

III. Management of Invasive Plant Species:

Eurasian watermilfoil is a very common invasive aquatic species in Indiana. Eurasian watermilfoil is problematic because it forms dense mats of vegetation just under the water's surface that clog boat motors and industrial equipment 38 and shade out lower portions of the lake. The shading effect of Eurasian Milfoil prevents other plants from receiving sunlight and thus reduces the area of useful habitat in the lake 39. For a guide on how to distinguish between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and the beneficial native Northern watermilfoil, read the fact sheet from the Wisconsin DNR.

Curlyleaf pondweed is most abundant during the spring 40, at which time thick patches can interfere with boating and other forms of recreation. Later in the season, the release of nutrients by decaying curlyleaf pondweed can contribute to summer algal blooms 41. Long-term plans are needed to control curlyleaf pondweed is necessary because the plant reproduces primarily via turions, or fleshy propugules. Curlyleaf pondweed turions are not affected by herbicides, can overwinter in lake sediments, and remain viable for several years 42.

Water Quality Threat: Invasive Aquatic Plants

Help prevent the spread of invasive plants in the Bloomington area by...

  • 1. Keeping personal watercraft and boat trailers clean of plant debris, which can be transferred between waterbodies.
  • 2. Not dumping the contents of aquariums into the environment. Many popular aquarium species are highly invasive.
  • 3. Disposing of old aquariums properly. The City of Bloomington Animal Shelter accepts donations of aquarium for reuse or recycling. For more information on this topic, including how to responsibly dispose of unwanted pet fish, please refer to the BEQI frequently asked questions page.

Brazilian elodea was first discovered in Lake Griffy in 1990 during a study conducted to help control the lake's infestation with Eurasian watermilfoil 43. It is believed that this was the first confirmed case of Brazilian elodea's presence in Indiana 44. Brazilian elodea is problematic because it is very durable and small cuttings can easily propagate. This hardiness makes Brazilian elodea a popular plant for aquariums but also enables Brazilian elodea to outcompete native vegetation and negatively impact fish communities.

Upon the discovery of Brazilian elodea in Griffy Lake, its presence was reported to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The DNR and the City of Bloomington were both anxious to eliminate the plant from Griffy Lake because it could easily spread to other waterbodies by hitchhiking on boating equipment. Waiting to control Brazilian elodea could therefore have potentially cost taxpayers far more in remediation funds than if an aggressive management plan had not been undertaken while the problem was still confined to Griffy Lake.

common invasive plants of Griffy Lake

After considerable debate regarding the relative merits of chemical treatment or attempting to control elodea with the non-chemical method of a lake drawdown, the Indiana DNR commenced herbicidal treatment in April 2006 with the consent of the City 45. Treatment was repeated in 2007 and 2008 46. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources' supported herbicidal application over a lake drawdrown treatment method because they anticipated that a drawdown would have been less likely to control Brazilian elodea than chemical treatment while simultaneously being more fatal to many of the lake's fish and other animals 47, 48. There was also concern that draining the lake for a drawdown would have flushed Brazilian elodea into downstream areas and caused the infestation problem to spread 49.

The DNR reports that herbicidal treatment has been highly successful in reducing the population of invasive plants in Lake Griffy 50. Brazilian elodea has not been found in Lake Griffy since 2008 51. Yet although the control of Brazilian elodea is an important success story for Bloomington, the City's Parks and Recreation Department implores citizens to avoid the need for further invasive species removal projects by never dumping their aquariums in local lakes again 52.

Lake Lemon

Water Quality Indicators for Lake Lemon

Indicator

Value

Data Source

Last Updated

Area (Acres)

1650

*

2008

Trophic Status

Eutrophic

*

2008

Trophic Trend

Fluctuating

*

2008

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

**

2008

Fishable Use

Impaired: 5B

**

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Not Assessed

**

2008

Total Number of Impairments

1

**

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

Mercury in Fish Tissue

***

2008

Indicator Data Sources

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix G: Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

***

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

IDEM data for 2008 shows that mercury in fish tissue is a problem in Lake Lemon 53. Additionally, concerns about PCB contamination have led the Department of Health to issue a fish consumption advisory for Lake Lemon catfish larger than 20 inches in length 54. Lake Lemon's ability to support recreational use and aquatic life was not accessed in IDEM's most recent integrated report.

Historically high fecal coliform levels (a measure of the potential presence of pathogenic organisms such as E. coli) has been a concern at Lake Lemon. Monitoring results for 2010 indicated a substantial reduction in fecal coliform levels as compared to 2009 55. Even so, the possibility of contamination from disease-causing microbes remains an ongoing threat to water quality in the Bloomington area, in part due to the high number of local residents using septic systems. Improperly maintained septic systems along Beanblossom Creek and the Lake Lemon shoreline have been identified in the past as significant sources of bacteria and nutrients to Lake Lemon 56.

Data using Carlson's Trophic State Index show that Lake Lemon has historically been rated as eutrophic to hypereutrophic in its trophic state 57. Compared to a group of 355 Indiana assessed between July-August 1994-2006 by the Indiana Clean Lakes Program, Lake Lemon's chlorophyll a and nitrogen levels were higher than average but still far below the maximum value observed 58. These findings reflect the high levels of algae production in Lake Lemon and are consistent with the reservoir's eutrophic state and observed poor water clarity. The low transparency is caused by algae and suspended sediments in the water.

Sediments enter Lake Lemon primary from Beanblossom Creek, the reservoir's primary tributary 59. High sediment loads resulting from stream bank erosion of Beanblossom Creek contribute to high levels of suspended solids in the lake. In order to slow the filling in of Lake Lemon with sediment, the Lake Lemon Conservancy District is manages a long-term Sediment Removal Project. In addition to using dredging to remove sediment from the lake, the Lake Lemon Conservancy district also undertakes erosion control measures such as installing riprap around the lake shoreline 60. Riprap is a permanent cover substance, made most typically of chucks of stone or concrete 61. In addition to stabilizing shoreline, the crevices in riprap provides habitat for aquatic insects and rooted plants.

lake monroe shoreline Figure 2 - White stone riprap installed along the shoreline of Lemon Lake. Riprap creates a more natural appearance along the edges of waterbodies than solid retaining walls, provide habitat for aquatic life, and protects the shoreline from erosion. (Photo credit: Lake Lemon Conservancy District).

Exotic invasive plants are another problem affecting Lake Lemon. Not only do large growths of invasive plants reduce the aesthetic enjoyment of the lake, they can clog boating equipment, impede swimming and other recreational activities, and disrupt the ecosystem by inhibiting the growth of native aquatic plants. Eurasian watermilfoil is the most pervasive invasive plant in Lake Lemon 62. Officials at Lake Lemon have used periodic herbicidal treatment to control the growth Eurasian milfoil in the lake, but the plant remains an ongoing nuisance. Other exotics, such as purple loosestrife, have been managed by mechanical removal 63.

Lake Monroe

Water Quality Indicators for Lake Monroe (Monroe Reservoir)

Indicator

Lower Reservoir Value+

Upper Reservoir Value+

Data Source

Last Updated

Area (Acres)

6863

3887

*

2008

Trophic Status

Mesotrophic

Mesotrophic

*

2008

Trophic Trend

fluctuating

fluctuating

*

2008

Support for Designated Uses

Recreational Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

**

2008

Fishable Use

Impaired: 5B

Impaired: 5B

**

2008

Drinking Water Use

Impaired: 5A

Impaired: 5A

**

2008

Aquatic Life Use

Not Assessed

Not Assessed

**

2008

Total Number of Impairments

3

3

**

2008

Cause of Impairment(s), If Any

Algae, Mercury in Fish Tissue, & Taste and Odor

Algae, Mercury in Fish Tissue, & Taste and Odor

**; ***

2008

Indicator Data Sources

*

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix G: Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

**

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

***

Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

+ Note: Because of the large size of Lake Monroe, the reservoir was sampled at two locations.

Indiana's Indiana Integrated Water Quality and Assessment Report for 2008 identified several parameters impairing water quality in Lake Monroe. These include the presence of mercury, excessive algae growth, and taste and odor 64.

The Department of Natural Resources does not maintain an intensive annual sampling program for Lake Monroe, but a comprehensive study completed in 1997 identified many ongoing challenges on managing the reservoir. Lake Monroe has poor water transparency, especially in the Upper Basin section of Lake Monroe to the northeast. This turbidity issue exists because of suspended sediments from runoff and extensive shoreline erosion. This sedimentation also degrades lake appearance and impedes boating in certain sections of Lake Monroe. Other problems identified for Lake Monroe include impacts from heavy recreational use and moderately high phosphorus levels in the Upper Basin, and elevated concentrations of arsenic, chromium, nickel, and zinc in sediment from the from Sugar Camp Creek Bay area 65.

Steep slopes along the Norman Uplands region of Lake Monroe's shoreline makes erosion control an ongoing challenge. Additionally, the reservoir's function as a flood control system means that Lake Monroe experiences regular high water events that limit the establishment of vegetation along the shoreline. With less vegetation holding sediments in place, the shoreline of Lake Monroe is more susceptible to undercutting from the erosive force of wave actions 66.

However, the same fluctuations in water level that exacerbate erosion along Lake Monroe's shoreline also limit the ability of invasive aquatic plants to become established. Like all plants, aquatic ones need light to make food via photosynthesis. Light levels decrease quickly with depth in most waterways, and fluctuations in lake depth can create inhospitable conditions for photosynthesis. Lake Monroe does however, have a problem with the invasive fish gizzard shad 67.

References

1. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Impaired Waters - Integrated Report." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2348.htm. Last accessed 25 Jan 2011.

2. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 28 Oct 2011. 43.

3. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Impaired Waters - Integrated Report." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2348.htm. Last accessed 25 Jan 2011.

4. Indiana State Department of Health. "2010 Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Complete Report." Online available at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm. Last accessed 28 Oct 2011.

5. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2004."

6. Commonwealth Biomonitoring. 1997. Bloomington/Monroe County Urban Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Assessment Project.

7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Indiana Assessment Data. Assessed Waters of Indiana by Watershed." Available online at http://iaspub.epa.gov/waters10/attains_state.report_control?p_state=IN&p_cycle=2010&p_report_type=A. Last accessed 31 January 2012. 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.

8. The City of Bloomington Environmental Commission Toxics Committee. "Toxics Report for Bloomington, Indiana: Releases, Remediation, Inventory, and Recommendations." Available online at http://bloomington.in.gov/media/media/application/pdf/5162.pdf. Last accessed 27 January 2012. September 2011. 8.

9. Indiana State Department of Health. "2010 Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Complete Report." Online available at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm. Last accessed 28 Oct 2011.

10. Jones, William and Mellissa Clark. Laboratory results from Indiana University's E455 Limnology course. 2011.

11. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2004."

12. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

13. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

14. Ibid.

15. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2004."

16. The City of Bloomington Environmental Commission Toxics Committee. "Toxics Report for Bloomington, Indiana: Releases, Remediation, Inventory, and Recommendations." Available online at http://bloomington.in.gov/media/media/application/pdf/5162.pdf. Last accessed 27 January 2012. September 2011. 9.

17. Ibid.

18. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

19. Ibid.

20. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

21. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

22. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix G: Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

23. Ibid.

24. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix G: Trophic Status and Trends of Indiana's Lakes." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

25. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

26. Commonwealth Biomonitoring. "Griffy Lake Watershed GIS Mapping and Management Plan." Prepared for the City of Bloomington, Indiana Planning Department. 2000. Available online at http://www.biomonitor.com/images/GRIFFY.PDF. Last accessed 10 February 2012. 50.

27. Ibid.

28. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

29. Ibid.

30. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment Report: 2008; Appendix B: Indiana's Consolidated List of Waterbodies Assessed Pursuant to CWA Section 305(b) Categories 1-5." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2639.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

31. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

32. Indiana State Department of Health. "2010 Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Complete Report." Online available at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm. Last accessed 28 Oct 2011.

33. Aquatic Control, Inc. "Griffy Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan 2008 Update - Draft." Prepared for: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 2008.

34. Aquatic Control, Inc. "Griffy Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan 2008 Update - Draft." Prepared for: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 2008. 1.

35. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

36. Cotter, Steve and William Jones. Data from Griffy Lake Sedimentation Survey. 2004.

37. Fields Environmental, LLC. "Griffy Lake Limited Sediment Characterization

Investigation (Addendum): Griffy Reservoir, Bloomington, IN." 24 February, 2012.

38. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)." Online available at http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/milfoil.htm. Last accessed 13 Jan 2011.

39. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The Facts... On Eurasian Milfoil." Online available at http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/publications/pdfs/EWMbrochure.pdf. Last accessed 13 Jan 2011.

40. Indiana Department of Natural Resources. "Aquatic Invasive Species: Curlyleaf Pondweed." Available online at http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/CURLYLEAF_PONDWEED.pdf. Last accessed 10 February 2012.

41. Ibid.

42. Aquatic Control, Inc. "Griffy Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan 2008 Update - Draft." Prepared for: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 2008. 21.

43. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

44. Aquatic Control, Inc. "Griffy Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan 2008 Update - Draft." Prepared for: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 2008. 1.

45. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

46. Aquatic Control, Inc. "Griffy Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan 2008 Update - Draft." Prepared for: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 2008.

47. Hinnefeld, Steve. Herald Times. March 25, 2006. "Chemicals to Kill Griffy Weeds." Available online at http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2006/03/25/news.new.1143260317.sto. Last accessed 10 February 2012.

48. Morin, Sarah. Herald Times. March 31, 2006. "Griffy Lake Chemical Treatment to Start." Available online at http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2007/04/08/news.qp-270902.sto. Last accessed 10 February 2012.

49. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

50. Ibid.

51. Cotter, Steve. (Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department). Personal communication. 23 March 2012.

52. Ibid.

53. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Available online at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

54. Indiana State Department of Health. "2010 Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory Complete Report." Available online at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm. Last accessed 28 Oct 2011.

55. Clark, Mellissa A.L. March 2011. "Lake Lemon Monitoring Program 2010 Results." Available online at http://www.lakelemon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/REPORT-2010.pdf. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

56. Jones, William and Louise Clemency. "Lake Lemon Enhancement Study." 1992. Available online at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/Lake_Lemon_Feasibility_Study-Monroe-July92.pdf. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

57. Ibid.

58. Clark, Mellissa A.L. March 2011. "Lake Lemon Monitoring Program 2010 Results." Available online at http://www.lakelemon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/REPORT-2010.pdf. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

59. Lake Lemon Conservancy District. "Sustainability." Available online at http://www.lakelemon.org/sustainability/. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

60. Ibid.

61. New Jersey Soil Conservation Committee. "Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in New Jersey," as copied from the Rhode Island Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook. 1980. Available online at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-wb-nps-rip_250895_7.pdf. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

62. Aquatic Control, Inc. 2005. "Lake Lemon Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan." Available online at http://www.state.in.us/dnr/fishwild/files/Lake_Lemon_AVMP_2006_Update_Monroe_Feb_2007.pdf. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

63. Ibid.

64. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Approved 2008 Section 303(d) List." Online available at http://www.in.gov/idem/nps/2647.htm. Last accessed 12 Jan 2011.

65. Jones, William. "Lake Monroe Diagnostic and Feasibility Study." 1997. Available online at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/199. Last accessed 3 February 2012.

66. Vance, Jill (Interpretive Naturalist for Monroe Lake). 12 February 2011. Personal Communication.

67. Ibid.