For Immediate Release
September 20, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Kansas, Missouri Improve Water Quality in Marais des Cygnes River
Basin through EPA Targeted Watershed Grant

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is announcing water quality improvements in the Marais des Cygnes (MdC) River Basin through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Targeted Watershed Grant (TWG) in the amount of $900,000. To accomplish this, KDHE partnered with Lake Region Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), Osage Valley RC&D, Kansas State University (KSU), Hillsdale Water Quality Project, and a wide variety of state partners from Missouri and Kansas. Alongside the grant, these partners, local landowners, producers and communities provided $448,946, or 33 percent, of the total project costs in matching funds.

Home to more than 125,000 Kansas and Missouri residents, the MdC Basin is characterized by increasing development expanding from the Kansas City area, growing recreational demands and municipal needs and robust agriculture comprised of feed grain production. The basin also contains grazing lands, confined animal feeding operations (especially dairy and beef cattle) and critical wildlife habitat areas including the MdC Wildlife Area and MdC National Wildlife Refuge, a natural wetlands providing habitat for migratory waterfowl.

The EPA notified KDHE of the grant award in December 2007. Partnering groups and agencies then began work to address the water quality concerns and impairments identified in the project work plan. Water quality concerns included low dissolved oxygen, high nutrient loading and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Impairments in basin lakes and streams have been identified as eutrophication and excessive biomass and sediment. Suspected sources of these impairments are livestock production, municipal and home wastewater treatment systems, crop production, stormwater and naturally occurring sources.

The TWG work plan focused on specific common action items addressing the MdC River Basin impairments that were identified by both states through their watershed planning efforts. Outcomes identified in the work plan included reducing nutrient loading and fecal coliform bacteria while increasing dissolved oxygen levels in high priority target areas. Five specific objectives were identified to address the identified water quality concerns:

  1. Assure Riparian Areas Produce the Best Possible Water Quality
  2. Reduce Adverse Water Quality Impacts of Livestock Production
  3. Reduce Adverse Water Quality Impacts from Onsite Wastewater Systems
  4. Reduce Adverse Water Quality Impairments of Developed and Developing Areas in and Around Towns and Communities
  5. Complete Bioassessments along Major Stream and River Segments in the Basin

Through the TWG project, more than a hundred Best Management Practices (BMPs) addressing the identified water quality concerns were installed in the high priority areas. 

“Participants have gained a better understanding of managing land for water quality and many of them have become very active community leaders. More than 150 basin residents improved their understanding of watershed protection and management practices by attending TWG workshops, classes, and field tours. The results are far-reaching and will continue to benefit the basin for years to come,” said John Mitchell, KDHE Division of Environment Director.

Load reduction modeling based on the BMPs installed provides the following successful reductions of major impairments in the MdC Basin:

Nitrogen Reduction:  5,015.8 lbs/year
Phosphorus Reduction:  8,297.9 lbs/year
Sediment Reduction:  738 tons/year

Please visit to view the final TWG report as well as additional load reduction successes. For more information regarding this project, contact Sheryl Ervin, KDHE, at (785) 296-8038.

Photos showing the changes to livestock conditions have been attached. Their respective captions are as follows:

The livestock operation before installing best management practices through the  Targeted Watershed Grant
Before: The livestock operation before installing best management practices through the Targeted Watershed Grant. The cattle were removed from a pond located on the property, alternative tire water tanks were installed, the associated feeding site was removed, the area was reseeded and the producer is now using rotational grazing practices.

After:  Recycled tractor tires find new life as alternative water tanks.
After: Recycled tractor tires find new life as alternative water tanks. In addition to removing tires from the waste stream, they are virtually indestructible, will not rust, limit algae growth and the rubber provides insulation to prevent freezing.