Elements of LOWA

Join LOWA on Facebook

Watch LOWA Videos

Useful Info

Lake Level

Lake LevelWater Levels

Lake Weather

Weather & Boating Report

We love dogs dearly, but keep their doodoo out of the lake just as you keep out your own. Watch these two videos below to find out why:
Puget Sound video
City of Richland video

Current Date and time: 23/07/2013 - 16:42pm


The Niangua Arm of Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Management Plan

Go Here For PDF of final Niangua Arm Watershed Management Plan (27MB) and go here to comment on the plan.

27 MB pdf of Niangua Arm Watershed Management Plan

Niangua Arm WMP Photo Journal


When below presentations open, advance slides by clicking on the forward arrow:

October 2012 Power Point Part 1

October 2012 Power Point Part 2


Project Purpose
Niangua An Impaired Water
Watershed Management Plan Objective

Appendix List

Links of Importance to the Niangua Arm Project

The Trophic State

All About Algae

Learn About Native Plants

Learn How Groundwater Flows

Current Project--Develop a Watershed Management Plan for the Ha Ha Tonka Watershed

Since its's inception, the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance has had the mission statement of " ...to preserve, protect, and improve the Lake of the Ozarks, its Watershed and natural resources..." This mission statement includes all of the Lake of the Ozarks and remains always the primary criteria in the planning and actions of LOWA. However, specific areas of the lake have been identified for special actions funded, in part, by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and by the US Environmental Agency.

CNR Logo

The first of these major grants was awarded to LOWA in February of 2011 and was concentrated on the most highly populated region of the lake. That region extends from Bagnell Dam to approximately the 18 mile mark (excludes the Gravois Arm) and is officially identified as Sub-watersheds HUC (Hydrologic Unit Codes) #102901090406 and HUC #102901090407.
(Buck Creek and Lick Branch, respectively)

Prior to being awarded that grant, LOWA had prepared and published a comprehensive WMP (watershed management Plan) planning document for those two HUCs. The grant of February 2011 has allowed current implementation of that WMP.

But, for reasons as discussed below, the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks has also become a region of special concern. To address those concerns, LOWA has been awarded a small grant to allow for preparation of the comprehensive watershed management Plan for a sub-watershed within the Niangua Arm and known as the HaHa Tonka Lake of the Ozarks sub-watershed, identified as HUC# 102901100403.


The Lake of the Ozarks is a large hydroelectric reservoir created by impounding the Osage River.. The main tributaries that feed into the lake include the Osage River (the main channel), Niangua River, Grand Glaize Creek, and Gravois Creek. The soils around the lake area are characterized as thin, erodible, with low infiltration rates on steep slopes. The geology around the lake is composed of sedimentary rocks, most of which are soluble limestone and dolomite, also known as carbonate rocks. Due to the geological make up, the area surrounding the lake contains many karst features, such as caves, springs, and sinkholes.

With the expansion of growth and development in more recent years, water quality concerns have come to the forefront. LOWA plans to develop a watershed management plan for the Ha Ha Tonka subwatershed of the Lake. This plan will complement other watershed and project efforts sponsored by LOWA throughout the lake region.

The watershed planning efforts of this current project focuses on the Ha Ha Tonka watershed, HUC #102901100403 which is a sub-watershed of the Niangua, HUC #10290110. The focus area includes the mouth of the Niangua Arm at Lake of the Ozark mile marker 31, encompasses 15 miles of the Niangua River, the western half of Camdenton, and the northern half of Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

Located within the Camden County, the Ha Ha Tonka watershed is approximately 27,063 acres (42.29 square miles) in size, and includes a portion of the City of Camdenton. The watershed is characterized as being 68.3% forest, 13.94% developed, 12.92% water, 4.19% grassland, 0.39% cropland, and 0.23% wetland. Of the developed areas, 0.21% is high intensity, 0.75% medium intensity, 3.10% low intensity, and 9.4% open space (source: University of Missouri, CARES Map Room). According to the 2000 U.S. census data, the population of the watershed at that time was 6,097 (averaging 144.19 persons per square mile). The highest populations are located within the City of Camdenton and concentrated at various locations along the lake shoreline.

Niangua Arm Tagged As Impaired Water Body

On September 8, 2010, the State of Missouri Clean Water Commission approved the proposed 2010 State's 303(d) listing of impaired water bodies.

In the 2010 listing, the Niangua Arm was listed as impaired for excessive phosphorus levels as a result of rural nonpoint source (NPS) and urban point sources. The total phosphorus (TP) criteria stated in the State's Water Quality Standards (10 CSR 20-7.031, Table L) for the Ozark Highlands Ecoregion, which encompasses the Lake of the Ozarks region, is 26 micrograms/L(ppb). As can be seen from Table 1. below, phosphorus in the Niangua Arm exceeds that limit. Table 1 provides average concentrations for TP collected at four (4) sites by the Lake of Missouri Volunteer Program between 2005 and 2009. Sites 4-3, 4-10, 4-15 compare average TP concentrations collected from the Niangua Arm to those TP concentrations collected near Bagnell Dam.

Table 1. Average Total Phosphorus (TP) concentrations comparisons at four sites (reported in micrograms per liter (µg/L))

Year Bagnell Dam
3 mm Main Channel
Niangua Aum
Site 4.3
Niangua Arm
Site 4.10
Niangua Arm
Site 4.15
2005 26 30 x x
2006 12 22 44 44
2007 39 52 46 56
2008 41 40 47 40
2009 34 50 58 51
AVERAGE 30 39 49 48
Source: Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program Data Report

The 2008 Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program Data Report cited a long-term TP average of 24 µg/L for the Lake. The data also indicated, when comparing data collected in the mid 1990s to mid 2000s, the average TP concentrations at site 4.10 were higher between 2006-2008 when compared to data collected between 1994-1996 (44 µg/L and 38 µg/L, respectively).

High phosphorus levels in the Lake are a concern because this is the first sign of impending eutrophication ( the "bloom" or great increase of phytoplankton which results in a depletion of oxygen and subsequent reduction or elimination of aquatic life). In other words, although a certain amount of phosphorus is essential to maintaining a good fishery, too much phosphorus can completely destroy it.

Before steps can be taken to alleviate the problems of an impaired water, it is necessary to perform studies and evaluations which will lead to a plan of action geared toward resolving the problem. Development of such a plan requires extensive time and resources and is typically funded by the state's environmental department. Missouri�s Department of Natural Resources has therefore commissioned the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance with the task of developing the watershed management Plan for the section of the Niangua Arm to be known as the HaHa Tonka Project and to encompass the HUC (Hydrologic Unit Code) #102901100403. (See location in adjacent image)

Watershed Management Plan Objective

The overall goal of this watershed management plan is to take a holistic approach to improving lake water quality by reducing pollutant runoff entering the lake. The plan itself will describe various strategies/objectives to achieve the overall goal. Because of the proposed 2010 303(d) impaired listing, LOWA will develop a watershed management plan (WMP) for the Ha Ha Tonka Watershed, HUC #102901100403 addressing the nine (9) critical elements of a watershed plan as identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The critical elements (a-i) of a watershed management plan are described below:

  1. An identification of the causes and sources or groups of similar sources that will need to be controlled to achieve the load reductions estimated in the watershed-based plan.
  2. An estimate of the load reductions expected for the management measures.
  3. A description of the NPS management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve the load reductions estimated in the plan.
  4. An estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed associated costs, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied upon to implement the plan.
  5. An information/education component that will be used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the NPS management measures that will be implemented.
  6. A schedule for implementing the NPS management measures identified in the plan that is reasonably expeditious.
  7. A description of interim, measurable milestones for determining whether NPS management measures or other control actions are being implemented.
  8. A set of criteria that can be used to determine whether loading reductions are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made towards attaining water quality standards.
  9. A monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time measured against the criteria.

LOWA will achieve the overall goal of completing a nine element WMP for the Ha Ha Tonka watershed through the following objectives:

  • Form watershed planning committee to provide technical assistance and support during the watershed planning process;
  • Conduct watershed meetings to increase public knowledge, encourage participation, and gather citizen concerns for incorporation into plan;
  • Conduct watershed assessment and research available watershed data to determine past, current and future efforts, and assessment gaps;
  • Estimate current pollutant loads and reductions utilizing a simplified watershed model (e.g. STEPL); and determine management practices needed to achieve load reduction goals;
  • Promote project efforts through various media outputs and other activities.

Next Step

All steps as outlined in the project proposal are currently under way and the watershed management Plan for the Ha Ha Tonka sub-watershed is expected to be completed and submitted on schedule. All citizens desiring to have input to this WMP are encouraged to contact the Project Manager, Caroline Toole, by sending email to: Caroline Toole: Project Manager and Acting Recording Secretary at the email address lowasec@soslowa.org

Niangua Arm of LOZ Project Review at LOWA October 15, 2012 Meeting

Caroline Toole, LOWA�s 319 Project Manager and Recording Secretary, spoke about LOWA�s newest project, which is to write a watershed management plan for the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. Toole presented an overview of this project. See below:

LOWA�s Mission Statement is: Citizens will preserve, protect, and improve the Lake of the Ozarks, its watershed and natural resources, while maintaining our economic, social, and environmental health. Because this watershed management plan is funded by a minigrant from the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) the following statement is provided. The �U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII, through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, has provided partial funding for this project under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.�

What Is A Watershed?

A watershed is the land that drains to a body of water, such as a creek, river, lake or ocean. When it rains and there�s rain water draining off the land, that rain water drains to some body of water, whether it�s a lake or a stream or an unnamed tributary to an unnamed creek. The land that the rainwater flows over is the watershed for that body of water. Little watersheds are part of bigger watersheds which are part of yet bigger watersheds as a creek drains to a stream which drains to a river which drains to the lake.

Our lake becomes the Osage River again after Bagnell Dam. And the Osage flows into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, the Gulf of Mexico has a large dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi, where the Mississippi enters the Gulf. This dead zone is an area of water where there�s not enough oxygen in the water to support life. And it has nothing to do with an oil spill or anything like that. There�s a large dead zone because of too many nutrients washing off of the land and coming down all those rivers and into the Mississippi and then dumping into the Gulf. Those nutrients are plant food and an overabundance of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus causes too much algae to grow too fast. That�s an algae bloom. A lot of algae grow all at once and then when the algae die, the bacteria that decay the dead algae use up the oxygen in the water, so nothing can live. One algae bloom once wouldn�t cause a dead zone, but the constant inflow of large amounts of nutrients from the Mississippi (the Mississippi watershed � all the land that eventually drains to the Mississippi - from the Rockies in the west to the Appalachians in the east � the largest watershed in North America) cause repeated algae blooms. We are in the watershed of the Mississippi as well as being in the watershed of the Lake of the Ozarks. So, what we do in our own yards really does have an impact a thousand miles away.

Osage Arm on EPA 303d List of Impaired Waters

But speaking of our own back yards, presently, the Osage Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks (LOZ) is on the Environmental Protection Agency�s (EPA) 303.d List of Impaired Waters for excessive nitrogen. The Niangua Arm of LOZ is on the 303.d List for excessive phosphorus. The Lake of the Ozarks is still a very healthy lake, but we should consider this listing as a red flag of warning to do what we can to reduce levels of these nutrients to a level where we don�t have to worry about algae blooms. In 1999, a large section of the James River Arm of Table Rock Lake experienced a sudden algae bloom. The water turned the color and consistency of pea soup. Because we have adequate warning, we � all the people of the lake area � really can do something about this and keep our lake healthy and beautiful. All the monitoring around the lake shows that Lake of the Ozarks is a very healthy lake, but it can be stressed and it does respond to heavy storms and too much runoff.

Niangua Arm Plan To Be Second Watershed Management Plan

Just as LOWA wrote a watershed management plan for the first 18.8 miles of the Osage Arm and its coves, LOWA is now writing a similar watershed management plan for the Niangua Arm. Addressing the phosphorus issue is rather controversial because a certain amount of phosphorus is needed to feed the plankton, which feed the little fish, which feed the big fish that anglers like to catch. The Lake of the Ozarks is a tremendous fishery and hosts more fishing tournaments than any other lake in the state. But phosphorus is also the missing ingredient needed for an algae bloom and we don�t want an algae bloom anywhere or at any part of LOZ. So, with all that very much in mind, there is something we all can do to help keep our lake good and healthy and that is to control the amount of stormwater runoff reaching the lake through many different means. Every land owner around the lake area can use Low Impact Landscape designs (LOWA LILs) to help slow that runoff, give that storm water a chance to soak into the ground, and reduce the amount of runoff reaching the lake. And when some stormwater runoff inevitably reaches the lake or stream or creek during a large storm, have a vegetated buffer strip to help filter that water.

Description of the Niangua Arm Watershed

The watershed for the Niangua River is all the land that drains to all the creeks and streams that drain into the Niangua River. Toward the mouth of the Niangua, where the Niangua meets the Osage, the influence of Bagnell Dam is felt by the river and the Niangua becomes part of the Lake of the Ozarks. This part of the Niangua is the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. LOWA is writing a watershed management plan for the Niangua Arm to address the issue of being on the 303.d List for excessive phosphorus. The specific part of the Niangua Arm and surrounding land (the watershed of the Niangua Arm) is defined by a Hydrologic Unit Code or HUC #102901100403 and is called �Hahatonka � Lake of the Ozarks�. This watershed includes the part of Camdenton west and south of old highway 5, about half of Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and most of the Niangua Arm, but none of the Little Niangua Arm.

Watershed Management Plan Description

What is a watershed management plan? A watershed management plan is a document that lays out a plan to address specific issues within a specific watershed. It is not a grant. Once a watershed management plan is written, submitted, and accepted, then any group can use any part of that document to apply for a grant to implement their own plan for addressing the issues, based on the watershed management plan. An effective watershed management plan (WMP) should: describe its watershed and the stakeholders in that watershed; determine the �loads� to the watershed, describe the impairments and the sources of impairments, determine how the loads will be reduced, describe what practices will be implemented to address the impairments, describe expected outcomes, determine all the education and information outreach activities, and put it all together into one coherent plan. Because LOZ is so large, many watershed management plans will probably eventually be written by many different groups to cover the many different parts of the Lake and the many different issues. But for now, LOWA is continuing the process of bringing together the background information, compiling the concerns of the people around the Niangua Arm and around the whole lake, and with input from a steering committee of stakeholders, coming up with a set of strategies which address the needs of the Niangua Arm. The Lake of the Ozarks and all its Arms are healthy and beautiful. LOWA believes we can all work together to act proactively and keep the Lake healthy and beautiful. If you want to give input into the process, please contact Caroline Toole, Project Manager, at ckingtoole@yahoo.com

Why A Watershed Plan?

Why write a watershed management plan (watershed management plan)? Once a plan has been written and accepted by MO Department of Natural Resources and the EPA, then anyone can use that plan and the ideas in that plan to write a grant and get funding to put the plan or parts of the plan to work. A watershed management plan does the research to find the issues, explain the background, describe the stakeholders, and develop a highly comprehensive plan to address the issues.

Source Water Protection Areas

All around the lake are Source Water Protection Areas which are areas where surface waters are replenishing the drinking water. In an area like the Ozarks, of caves and sinkholes and karst topography, the thin soils and cracked up bedrock mean filtering and cleaning the water coming from the surface may not work as effectively as in many other parts of the country. And this is another reason we need to take care of the surface of the land � the watershed � in order to protect our well water. Several parts of the watershed include densely populated shorelines and these especially are areas where many people each doing a little bit to help the watershed can add up to a large effect. But these are also areas where so many people can, often unknowingly, have a negative effect. That�s why we all need to be careful about our actions and try to understand the question: what are the ways we can all help keep our lake healthy? Even though many homes around the lake are weekend homes, people are retiring and coming to live fulltime at the lake. So, many formerly part time homes will become full time and these homeowners also need to understand their role in keeping the lake healthy and beautiful. These are some of the topics the upcoming watershed management plan will try to address.

Local Sources of Nutrients

Some local sources of nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen, all around the lake are fertilizer, not just agriculture and golf courses, but from our own lawns too; pet waste (!); wildlife; leaves (don�t blow your leaves into the lake! The Lake gets enough leaves from Mother Nature); soil erosion; and maybe even leakage from poorly functioning septic tanks or poorly managed permitted facilities.

Problem Aspects Specific To the Niangua Arm

Looking at information about the Ha Ha Tonka subwatershed from the CARES watershed information site on the web (just Google CARES map room), we see that this watershed has a lot of highly erodible soils and lots of steep slopes, as well as several large springs and many source water protection areas. The population has been growing quickly since the 1980�s so that many areas near the shoreline now have enough people to be urban density. The spring at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, which is located inside the watershed area has been dye traced to a sinkhole called Goodwin Pit, south east of Ha Ha Tonka spring, 11 miles away. That means surface water entering this sinkhole travels underground and surfaces again at Ha Ha Tonka spring.

Phosphorus Level in the Niangua Arm

What do we know about phosphorus levels in the Niangua Arm? The Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program (LMVP) has been monitoring lakes all over Missouri for over 20 years, including the Lake of the Ozarks and its arms. Several years of data show average total phosphorus (TP) levels going up and down since 2006 but averages show TP levels increase as one goes up the Niangua Arm (away from the dam). LMVP also hosted a Niangua Snapshot where many water samples were collected throughout the entire Niangua basin on one day in early May, 2011. Site types included river (both Little Niangua and Niangua), lake, springs, and tributaries. Results showed, among other things, 3 areas of concern in the Niangua Basin. An area of low dissolved oxygen on the Little Niangua, an area of high E. coli bacteria in the headwaters of the Niangua, and an area of high phosphorus in the Niangua Arm. In looking at site type, springs and tributaries were generally lower for TP than the lake and river sites. And, other results showed the Niangua to have much higher TP levels than the Little Niangua. When looking at how TP varied along the Niangua, way up at the headwaters has the highest levels of TP and then the TP levels settle to a fairly consistent level until approaching the arm of the lake, when TP levels rise again. The Little Niangua shows very similar trends, though TP levels are lower all around.

LOWA LILs To The Rescue

The Niangua Arm has many of the same issues as the Osage Arm: population density, steep slopes, and too many opportunities for runoff to reach the Lake, bringing with it soil, bacteria, and nutrients like phosphorus. And that�s where LOWA LILs come in. �LILs� stands for Low Impact Landscapes and includes all the different ways individuals can help to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff reaching the Lake. In fact, the EPA now considers stormwater pollution to be one of the most significant sources of contamination in our nation�s waters.

The LOWA LILs Project

The LOWA LILs Project was developed in LOWA':s first watershed management plan and is now being implemented through a grant that was written after the watershed management plan was written and accepted. The LOWA LILs Project focuses on the first 19 miles of the Lake but reaches out to all parts of the Lake. LOWA is encouraging land owners all around the lake area to implement a series of landscape techniques like rain gardens, rain barrels, vegetated buffer strips, terracing, vegetated channels, and compost sock berms to slow the runoff and give the runoff a chance to soak into the ground either right then or held until after the storm.

LOWA LIL's Tools

A rain garden is a depression dug into the soil, filled with lots of chipped hard wood mulch and rich soil, and planted with a variety of native plants chosen to provide color, texture, and beauty each season. The rain garden is located and designed to catch stormwater runoff, absorb it, and allow the rain water to soak into the bark mulch and the ground where the native plant roots will soak it up. A rain barrel is a container (or containers, any shape or size) that hooks up with the rain gutters to catch and store rain water. The caught water can then be used later to water plants, lawns, gardens, or simply released out slowly after the storm has passed. Compost sock berms (also called silt socks in the construction industry) are tubes of mesh filled with shredded leaves, composted bark mulch, or other similar materials that are laid down on the ground to catch stormwater runoff, slow the runoff, and give the stormwater more of a chance to soak into the ground. These berms also catch any soil or debris washing down with the runoff and the berms can be planted in.

Learn More About LOWA LILs

The ideas about LOWA LILs were first discussed in the document: A Watershed Management Plan for the Lake of the Ozarks � Buck Creek (HUC#102901090501) and Lick Branch (HUC#102901090506) available online here and LOWA LIL's can be read about at www.soslowa.org/lowalils.html or by clicking on LOWA LILs on the home page. The Niangua Arm has many of the same issues as the Osage Arm: population density, steep slopes, and too many opportunities for runoff to reach the Lake, bringing with it soil, bacteria, and nutrients. But the Niangua Arm also is different from the first 19 miles of LOZ and so will need solutions specific to its own concerns.

See Examples of Vegetated Buffer Stirps at Old Kinderhook

Old Kinderhook reduces runoff contamination around its shoreline through the use of vegetated buffer strips along the shore line. Vegetated buffer strips are areas along the shoreline which have been planted with enough different types of plants to slow the runoff down and filter it before the runoff reaches the lake.


EPA 319 Credit EPA 319 Logo


about lowa LOWA Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Corporation

Copyright © July 5, 2010 Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, Inc.