Introducing The Walnut Creek Watershed

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A photographic and informational overview of the Walnut Creek watershed, part of the Raccoon River basin in Iowa. Key water-related issues are presented, along with ecological strengths.

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Introducing The Walnut Creek Watershed

  1. 1. Introducing the Walnut Creek Watershed Photo by Jim Riggs Unless otherwise credited, all photos & text by Lee Searles
  2. 2. Location in the Raccoon Watershed WALNUT CREEK Map source: IA DNR
  3. 3. Tributaries Map source: IA DNR
  4. 4. Tributaries, cont’d. LITTLE WALNUT NORTH WALNUT CUMMINS LIVING HISTORY BLUE KAREN ACRES ROCKLYN LITTLE WALNUT CREEK INDUSTRIAL
  5. 5. Des Moines Waterworks <ul><li>Independent public utility, formed 1871 </li></ul><ul><li>Serves over 400,000 people </li></ul><ul><li>Water sources: Raccoon & Des Moines Rivers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct intakes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parallel floodplain intakes </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Water quality assessment parameters: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Known pollutants: agricultural & urban </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hydrology: flood stages, particle loads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emerging contaminants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pharmaceuticals: livestock & human </li></ul></ul></ul>Graph source: DMWW
  7. 7. DMWW <ul><li>Water Works Park: about 1500 acres </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public events, such as the Asian Festival </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bill Riley Trail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arie den Boer Arboretum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>www.dmww.com </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Des Moines Wastewater Reclamation Authority
  9. 9. Communities <ul><li>Clive </li></ul><ul><li>Dallas Center </li></ul><ul><li>Des Moines </li></ul><ul><li>Grimes </li></ul><ul><li>Johnston </li></ul><ul><li>Urbandale </li></ul><ul><li>Waukee </li></ul><ul><li>West Des Moines </li></ul><ul><li>Windsor Heights </li></ul>
  10. 10. Communities <ul><li>Clive Greenbelt </li></ul>
  11. 11. Communities <ul><li>Des Moines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ashworth Park & Pool </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bill Riley Trailhead </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Greenwood Park </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>DM Art Center </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seven southwestern Neighborhood Associations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ingersoll Park, Linden Heights, Salisbury Oaks, Waterbury, Waveland Park, Waveland Woods, Westwood </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Waveland Golf Course </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Glenwood Cemetery </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Communities <ul><li>Windsor Heights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate presence: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>WalMart </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hy-Vee </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kum & Go </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parks: Colby & Lions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Also elementary school grounds (“pocket parks”) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Communities <ul><li>Clive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate presence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Retailers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BP-Amoco storage & distribution </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Communities <ul><li>Urbandale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate presence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Retailers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stew Hansen’s Car Sales </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Flying J Truck Stop </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Menards </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Residential areas & associated uses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parks & schools </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Ecosystems <ul><li>Biodiversity is present </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Birds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Woodland flora </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prairie savannah & tallgrass prairie </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mammals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Microscopic life </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Ecosystems <ul><li>Benthic macroinvertebrates: annelid worms, mollusks, arthropods </li></ul>Snailcase Caddisfly larva (Steve Witmer) Soldier Fly larva (Steve Witmer)
  17. 17. AMERICAN COOT at DMWW
  18. 18. BLACK SNAKEROOT
  19. 19. GREEN DARNER “ Two kinds of time pass here: sitting at the edge of a sun-warmed pool watching blue dragonflies and black tadpoles. And the rapids: down the glassy-smooth tongue into a yawning trench, climb a ten-foot wall of standing water and fall into boiling, ferocious hydraulics, sucking whirlpools, drowned voices, stopped hearts.” -- Barry Lopez
  20. 20. BROWN CREEPER, Ashworth Park
  21. 21. CHINSTRAP (CANADA) GOOSE
  22. 22. BROWN SNAKE, South-of-Grand, Des Moines
  23. 23. CICADA KILLER
  24. 24. COMMON MULLEIN, Norfolk-Southern Rail Grade
  25. 25. CRANEFLY, South-of-Grand, Des Moines
  26. 26. SCAT OF WHITE-TAILED DEER, Bill Riley Trail
  27. 27. Unidentified DRAGONFLY It was sunny one evening last summer at Tinker Creek; the sun was low in the sky, upstream…. Again and again, one fish, then another, turned for a split second across the current and flash! The sun shot out from its silver side…. Something broke and something opened. I filled up like a new wineskin. I breathed an air like light; I saw a light like water…. I was ether, the leaf in the zephyr; I was fleshflake, feather, bone. -- Annie Dillard
  28. 28. EASTERN KINGBIRD, Glendale Cemetery
  29. 29. FOX SNAKE, South-of-Grand, Des Moines
  30. 30. FOX TRACKS, Greenwood Park “ I think of two landscapes--one outside the self, the other within…. The second landscape I think of is an interior one, a kind of projection within a person of a part of the exterior landscape…. The shape of the individual mind is affected by land as it is by genes.” -- Barry Lopez
  31. 31. COMMON HEMLOCK & GARLIC MUSTARD
  32. 32. GIANT LACEWING (rare?), South-of-Grand, Des Moines
  33. 33. OVENBIRD (window-kill), South-of-Grand, Des Moines
  34. 34. POKEWEED or INKBERRY
  35. 35. AILANTHUS or TREE-OF-HEAVEN (exotic), Norfolk-Southern Rail Grade
  36. 36. WHITE-TAILED DEER, Bill Riley Trail “ I love any discourse of rivers.” -- Izaak Walton
  37. 37. TRACKS OF RACCOON, Clive Greenbelt
  38. 38. HAIRSTREAK BUTTERFLY
  39. 39. Ecosystems BENTHIC, AQUATIC, SURFICIAL STREAM EDGE, BANK, TRANSITIONAL SAND & GRAVEL BAR BOTTOMLAND FOREST UNDERSTORY CANOPY FLOODPLAIN AERIAL
  40. 40. TUFTED TITMOUSE, South-of-Grand
  41. 41. RING-BILLED GULLS, DMWW “ Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” -- Norman McLean
  42. 42. Ecosystems OUTSIDE CUTBANK PROFILE “ In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing can surpass it.” -- Lao-Tzu
  43. 43. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, South-of-Grand
  44. 44. Agricultural Environments <ul><li>Reduced biodiversity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cropland </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pasture & animal feeding lots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fencerows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wooded & cleared ravines </li></ul></ul>
  45. 45. Agricultural <ul><li>CAFOs (2005) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surface destruction: topsoil, excessive organic matter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pollutant runoff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State permitting & regulation </li></ul></ul>
  46. 46. Agricultural <ul><li>Close grazing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surface runoff & sheet erosion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hoof damage to cover & overgrazing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bulldozing & clearing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exotic pasture species, e.g., crown vetch, bird’s-foot trefoil, red clover, sweet clover </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overpopulation by cool-season grasses, including exotics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brome, orchard grass </li></ul></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>Cropland </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Row crops: soybeans, maize </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chemical pesticides & herbicides </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fertilizers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water & wind erosion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soil compaction </li></ul></ul>Agricultural
  48. 48. Agricultural <ul><li>History of conservation practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grassed waterways through fields </li></ul></ul>
  49. 49. Agricultural <ul><ul><li>Crop stubble: low-till & no-till </li></ul></ul>
  50. 50. Agricultural <ul><ul><li>Crop terracing </li></ul></ul>
  51. 51. Suburban Development <ul><li>Destruction of native remnant habitats </li></ul><ul><li>Exotic landscaping species </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of fencerows, woodlots, grassy streambanks </li></ul>
  52. 52. Development <ul><ul><li>Residential topsoil stripping & soil disturbance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subsoil compaction </li></ul></ul>
  53. 53. Development <ul><ul><li>Multiple-use siting </li></ul></ul>
  54. 54. Development <ul><ul><li>Erosion barriers </li></ul></ul>
  55. 55. Development <ul><ul><li>New park lands </li></ul></ul>
  56. 56. Urban Environments <ul><li>Residential areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exotic lawns: bluegrass, fescue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nonnative landscape plantings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Corporate neighbors: nonnative landscaping </li></ul>
  57. 57. Development <ul><li>Stormwater management </li></ul>
  58. 58. Urban <ul><li>Recreational uses: bike trails </li></ul>
  59. 59. Urban
  60. 60. Urban
  61. 61. Urban
  62. 62. Urban Photo by Jim Riggs <ul><li>Recreational uses: water trails </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inhibited by log jams, highly variable water levels </li></ul></ul>
  63. 63. Urban <ul><ul><li>Asphalted parking & streets: runoff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stormwater management </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Extremes in water levels after heavy rains </li></ul></ul></ul>
  64. 64. Urban Raccoon/Walnut confluence with Union Pacific rail line in foreground, late spring 2008 RAIL RIGHT-OF-WAYS ARE COMMON LOCATIONS FOR WATER PONDING & MOSQUITO BREEDING, ALONG WITH DENSE GROWTHS OF INVASIVE PLANTS.
  65. 65. Urban <ul><li>Hazardous materials spills </li></ul>FLYING J TRAVEL PLAZA HAS BEEN SUED BY THE IOWA ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR REPEATED SPILLS INTO WALNUT CREEK.
  66. 66. Urban <ul><li>Lowhead dams & other obstructions </li></ul>Downstream from South Valley Drive

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