Scientists Check Midwestern Waters For Effects Of Ag Runoff

A team from the U.S. Geological Survey will spend this summer collecting water samples from Missouri streams to test for hundreds of pesticides and nutrients used in farming.

| June 20, 2013

  • Papoulias and Nicks close the minnow cages with the help of environmental toxicologist Don Tillitt. The biologists will check in on these minnows every other day until the end of July.
    Photo by Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
  • Group of scientists in a stream
    One of the U.S. Geological Survey teams collecting water samples and checking cages for fish eggs in Missouri this summer: biologist Diana Papoulias, chemist Dave Alvarez, hydrologist Peter Van Metre, biologist Diane Nicks and environmental toxicologist Don Tillitt.
    Photo by Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
  • Scientists with minnow eggs
    At Goodwater Creek near Centralia, Mo., U.S. Geological Survey biologists Diana Papoulias and Diane Nicks pull up six cages of fishhead minnows. They’re checking for eggs.
    Photo by Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
  • Scientists in a stream
    Scientists test the water in a Missouri stream for ag runoff.
    Photo by Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

  • Group of scientists in a stream
  • Scientists with minnow eggs
  • Scientists in a stream

Reposted with permission from Harvest Public Media

Eleven miles northeast of Centralia, Mo., five U.S. Geological Survey scientists don waders and bright reflective life jackets to wade into Goodwater Creek. Plenty of fish live in the stream’s murky slow-moving waters, along with snakes, crayfish, mussels and snapping turtles. On this overcast morning, the team collects water samples and checks submerged cages of fathead minnows for eggs.

“The fish will be spawning every few days and the eggs will be hatching in say, four or five days,” said Diana Papoulias, a biologist who works out of the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia (Mo.) Environmental Research Center. “So we need to catch them and collect the eggs, of course, the embryos, before they hatch.”

Goodwater Creek is one of a number of Missouri streams that this crew will visit this summer. After collecting samples, the scientists will test the water for hundreds of pesticides and nutrients used in farming. Similar teams of chemists, hydrologists, toxicologists and biologists are wading into other streams all across the Midwest – from Ohio to Nebraska – 100 streams in total. This is the first time scientists have tested for so many chemicals in a whole region’s waters or considered the impact of ag runoff on fish, frogs, bugs and algae at this scale.

The U.S. Geological Survey hopes to eventually use the findings from this study to make models that will calculate the concentrations of contaminants, nutrients and sediment in other Midwestern streams and predict how they will change the reproduction and development of fish, frogs, bugs and algae.

The study is costing the Geological Survey $6 million, including the time of about 60 scientists this summer. The group partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to complete the assessment, which is contributing another $570,000.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters