The Hillsdale Water Quality Project Inc. was initiated as a result of a petition by a group of citizens in this watershed who were concerned about the reservoir's future as a drinking water source and a recreational asset. Their broad objectives were to maintain the lake's quality and avoid further deterioration.
The Hillsdale Project is the focal point which will help guide the area's activities toward protecting the lake. Those within the community and partners from various agencies have directed EPA's Section 319 funds through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and combined them with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds toward priority areas within the watershed. The role of the Lake and Watershed Ombudsman has been to establish and broker innovative partnerships and solutions.
Hillsdale Water Quality Project Goals
Volunteers serving on the Board of Directors adopted four long-term goals for the project. They are:
- educate the public about point and non-point sources of pollution in the watershed;
- introduce pollution control practices in agricultural areas, construction sites and neighborhoods to protect water quality;
- reduce the amount of sediment entering Hillsdale Lake by 30 percent. This would be a reduction of almost 40,000 tons of sediment per year based on a US Geological Survey study of Hillsdale Lake based on the approximate amount of sediment that entered the lake between 1981 and 1996;
- reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Hillsdale Lake by 30 percent. This would be a reduction of approximately 21,000 kilograms per year of phosphorus based on the same study.
The team staff leveraged EPA's Clean Water Act 319 grant funds, USDA and state funds to pay for the cost of the project. The following team actions have provided a direct cost savings and more efficient and effective use of the project's funds:
- A long-term monitoring strategy has been created which has established data quality objectives that will maximize sampling efforts.
- Each of the watershed's communities have updated their comprehensive plans to include stronger language regarding the need to protect water quality. These guidelines include changes to zoning and subdivision regulations.
- The Hillsdale Project contracted with Philip Barnes, a K-State research engineer, to study how the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process will affect residents in the Hillsdale watershed. Barnes has given an overview of the TMDL process to farmers, municipalities and project members at several meetings. In addition to explaining the TMDL process in basic terms, Barnes has been determining what areas in the watershed may be most affected by the loss of sediment and phosphorus. Barnes will also detail for the community what Best Management Practices (BMP) could best minimize those losses.
- A lake water clarity study and survey was conducted in 1999 to compare the public's perception of the lake's water clarity to the actual depth measurements of its clarity. More than 500 lake visitors were surveyed. Only an indirect correlation between the actual measurement and public perception could be created. Based on the survey results, the user's ratings of poor, good or excellent could potentially be correlated to their frequency of visits to the lake. A study of the lake's historical clarity data was also compared to other reservoirs.
- Since 1997, a total of 22,000 tons* of soil has been preserved within the watershed through pollution controls and best management practices. (*Natural Resources Conservation Service's soil loss equation.)
- More than $1.2 million in contributed services has been donated to the project through volunteer time, services, materials and technical assistance. Project volunteers received the CF Industries National Watershed Award in 1998 and the 1999 Pollution Prevention Award for their collaborative efforts from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The Designated Priority Area
The project's stream monitoring data has shown that Big Bull Creek carries the largest amount of pollutants into the lake. For this reason, the Big Bull sub watershed continues to be the project's priority area. Located in the north-central portion of the Hillsdale watershed, it comprises about 30 percent of the total watershed and receives effluent from the Gardner and Edgerton wastewater treatment plants. The KCPL Prairie Wetland was constructed adjacent to Gardner's treatment plant to help reduce the amount of pollutants in the plant's outflow before reaching the lake.
Race for the Lake
Race for the Lake , a 5K run/walk and an annual fundraiser for the project, takes place the third week of September. The scenic course park entrance. Participation in the event doubled the second year and about 200 runners are expected for the third annual race Sept. 16, 2000.
General Watershed Information
- Hillsdale Lake supplies water to about 30,000 Johnson and Miami County residents through Miami County Rural Water District #2, Johnson County Rural Water District #7 and the cities of Spring Hill and Gardner, Kansas.
- The lake provides recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, picnicking, bird watching and sight seeing. These annual activities draw almost one million visitors to Hillsdale Lake. The multipurpose pool covers 4,580 acres, compared to a flood control pool of 7,410 acres.
- The urbanized areas of the watershed are Edgerton, Gardner and New Century Air Center. Portions of Spring Hill and Wellsville are within the watershed. These cities do not discharge wastewater to the Hillsdale watershed.
- Estimated population of the watershed is more than 16,000.
- Animal operations within the watershed include cattle, swine, dairy, sheep and horses.
- The watershed encompasses 144 square miles. The Hillsdale Water Quality Project's geographic information mapping system has been implemented to provide a detailed breakdown of the watershed's land uses.
CBEP Team Project Goals
EPA's staff on the Hillsdale CBEP team are technical consultants to the Board of Directors. The CBEP team has also established specific goals. They are:
- to provide technical assistance in a timely manner to preserve the quality of Hillsdale Lake;
- to provide training to the project staff and volunteer Board of Directors to bolster their technical capacity; and
- to receive fewer requests for assistance from the volunteers without any loss in efficiency or effectiveness to the project.
EPA Region 7 Contact
Kathleen L. Fenton
CARE Program Manager