(2014) Pearson Creek Watershed - 319 Project


The Pearson Creek watershed is located east of Springfield, Missouri and drains 61 km2 at its confluence with the James River. The watershed is composed of mixed agricultural, urban, and forest land uses, and there are management concerns that nonpoint source and industrial releases may be degrading aquatic life in lower Pearson Creek. In particular, macroinvertebrate communities are impaired in the stream segment below Jones Spring in the lower Pearson Creek.

The Jones Spring recharge area receives runoff from an urbanized section of Springfield. Pearson Creek is listed on the 303d list for unknown toxicity initiated by aquatic invertebrate species monitoring by City Utilities of Springfield. The Pearson Creek TMDL finalized in January 2011 identifies the effects of urban runoff as the major threat to water quality in Pearson Creek and aims to reduce the frequency and magnitude of high flows to improve water quality. Past research was used to conclude that combined effects from multiple stressors (such as metals, nutrients, organic compounds, water temperature, decreased levels of dissolved oxygen, and impacts from physical changes to bank and bed characteristics from increased storm water contributions from urban areas) justified the use of stream flow targets as a surrogate for specific pollutant thresholds. The Pearson Creek TMDL states that flow targets and fully supporting biological ratings for survey sites can be accomplished through actions associated with permitting processes in Greene County and Best Management Practices (BMPs) that focus on reducing storm water runoff in the watershed.

The James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) has implemented a Section 319 Grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency Region VII designed to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Pearson Creek Watershed. The Show-Me Yards, Neighborhoods, Farms and Ranches (SMYNFR) program will target suburban homeowners and small acreage land owners (300 acres or less) that do not qualify as commercial agricultural operations. This program targets landowners located in the Pearson Creek watershed. Cost share incentives will encourage these home and landowners to use Low Impact Development (LID) techniques and BMP’s as they maintain and manage their small suburban lawn, farm, or ranch. The SMYNFR program will contribute to ongoing efforts to meet Pearson Creek TMDL flow targets and fully supporting biological ratings. The JRBP has contracted the Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute (OEWRI) at Missouri State University in Springfield to plan, complete, and report on all water quality monitoring and modeling work for this project.


The proposed monitoring plan for the Pearson Creek watershed addresses directly or compliments the following management and regulatory goals: (i) 319 requirements for evaluating baseline conditions, BMP effectiveness, load reductions, (ii) approved TMDL targets for both James River and Pearson Creek, (iii) approved watershed management plan recommendations for the Upper James River, and (iv) Springfield and Greene County MS-4 management plans.

The objectives of the Pearson Creek 319 monitoring plan are:

  1. Monitor the influence of lawn and pasture nutrient and runoff management programs in suburban-rural areas in the Pearson Creek Watershed.
  2. Measure the levels of pH, temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and concentrations of TN, TP, TSS, bacteria, and chlorine in base flow and storm runoff in Pearson Creek and Jones Branch.
  3. Measure discharge at the time of sampling and where possible develop rating curves and flow duration tables to use for mass load calculations.
  4. Evaluate water quality linkages between upland nonpoint sources and downstream TMDL water bodies.
  5. Use standard methods and an approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) to perform a scientific assessment of the water quality conditions present in tributary and main stem sites in the Pearson Creek Watershed.
  6. Compare findings of the current project with historical information about the measured parameters.
  7. Use STEPL modeling to determine load reductions and BMP effectiveness with local discharge, water quality, watershed, and event load data used to help calibrate and refine model output.

Project Partners


Project Funding

Missouri Department of Natural Resources 

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII - Section 319

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