Notes from

Upper Mississippi River Hazardous Spills Coordination Group

Conference Call

October 20, 2005


The call was initiated at 9 am on Thursday, October 20, 2005.   The following UMR Spills Group and UMR Water Suppliers Coalition members participated:


Roger Lauder

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

John Whitaker

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Rick Gann

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Tom Kendzierski

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

John Punkiewicz

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District

Dave Kull

Iowa American Water Company

Ann Whelan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Tim Ganz

American Water Company

Gary Haden

McKinzie Environmental

Frank Catalano

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District

Dave Morrison

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Joe Snowden

U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Safety Office, St. Louis

Barbi Lee

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Bryan Lloyd

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association


Welcome & Introduction

John Whitaker and Dave Hokanson opened the call and thanked all for participating, acknowledging that – given hurricane response activities – this is challenging time to get the group together and their participation is appreciated. 


Minutes of the October Meeting

Dave Hokanson provided opportunity for comment and correction of the minutes of the April 19-20, 2005 UMR Hazardous Spills Coordination Group meeting.  Hearing no comments or corrections, minutes were considered to be final.


UMR Early Warning Monitoring Network/Pilot Probe at L&D 15

Tim Ganz introduced discussion regarding the UMR Early Warning Monitoring Network and the Pilot Probe at L&D 15.  As part of his introductory remarks, Ganz noted that the UMR Water Suppliers Coalition (UMRWSC) now has a website up and running at  This website includes features such as linking to the L&D 15 probe data at  and provides a list of water supplier contacts. He further noted that the UMRWSC has continued interest in coordinating its meeting and activities with those of the UMR Hazardous Spills Coordination Group, including a joint meeting in the spring of 2006. Finally, Ganz noted that he hoped a “trigger & notification” system could be set up using the data from the probe at L&D 15, and that somehow this be coordinated through the website and/or email notification. Ganz further stated that some assistance in the programming of this would be needed (from UMRBA, USACE, EPA or whomever could offer such assistance).


John Whitaker asked whether such a “trigger & notification” system would include calling emergency spill response phone numbers.  Ganz indicated that the preferred mode of operation would be an internal review of data (by Dave Kull and any others needed in a given situation), followed by notification to UMRWSC members and, as needed, notification to emergency response numbers/personnel.


Dave Hokanson asked whether: 1) trigger values had already been established, and 2) whether two tiers of triggers/notification (i.e. standard and emergency) would be appropriate in light of Whitaker’s question.  Ganz indicated that trigger values had already been established and that only one set was needed. The internal review of data (described above) would lead to a determination of the appropriate level of follow-up.


Dave Kull from Iowa American next presented detailed information about the operation and maintenance of the probe.  He has been performing regular (monthly) maintenance of the probe since June 2005.  It appears that Moline water plant staff may also be willing to assist in the ongoing maintenance and operation of the probe. Kull then gave a parameter-by-parameter summary of the probe operation and results as follows:


Water Temperature: Results appear to be accurate.

Conductivity: Results appear to be accurate. Less calibration needed for this parameter (approximately every 6 months).

Dissolved Oxygen: Results appear to be accurate.  Due to the (membrane) nature of the probe, requires potentially greater frequency (every 2-3 weeks) of calibration in the summer.

pH: Results appear to be accurate

Turbidity: Up until 10/18/05, proper scaling factor had not been applied in processing of data to USACE website (i.e. results were too low by a factor of 10). This problem has been corrected and results now appear to be accurate.

Chlorophyll:  Still need to work on calibration for this parameter.


John Whitaker asked why location data (river mile) for the probe was not available on Corps web site.  John Punkiewicz offered to ask Clint Beckert (USACE-Rock Island) why this was the case. 


Ann Whelan asked whether the probe was providing more frequent (and hence more valuable) data than was normally being collected at the water treatment plant. Kull responded that the data was indeed collected on a much more frequent basis.


Hokanson asked whether, overall, the performance of the probe had been acceptable and what was the anticipated time frame for calibration of chlorophyll measurements. Kull indicated that the probe had performed very well, especially in consideration of the physical environment where it resides.  In terms of chlorophyll calibration, Kull indicated he hoped to have this in place by the end of the calendar year.


Kull did not see the need to look into other vendors at this time. However, he recommended that the group be in contact with Clint Beckert regarding a test that USACE is performing with a Hach product (which uses an optical DO sensor, rather than a membrane probe).


In response to a question from Hokanson, Whelan indicated that EPA’s support for this project was largely to be in terms of supporting the organization of an Early Warning Monitoring Network and providing funds for the initial pilot probe.  If further monitoring stations were to be put in place, other sources of funding would need to be used. Whelan suggested that it would be desirable for per station cost estimates to be developed.   Punkiewicz indicated that he would further check with Beckert regarding any cost estimates USACE may already have developed.


Whitaker asked whether any sites upstream of the current location had been considered.  Ganz stated that he was not aware of any at this time, and would likely have to be supported by one of the larger water supply systems (e.g. Minneapolis or St. Paul). 


Notification Drills

John Whitaker noted that no notification drills have taken place since the last Spills Group meeting. He suggested that upcoming notification drills might incorporate the EWM probe at L&D 15, possibly even being initiated based on data from the pilot probe. Both Roger Lauder and Ann Whelan expressed support for this idea.  Lauder further brought up the issue of what is appropriate “advanced notice” of a notification drill. Whitaker acknowledged that this is an issue and suggested general advanced notice of a week or two (but not giving specific date).


Lauder mentioned the exercises being led by the Illinois Rural Water Association.  Whitaker expressed an interest in finding out more about the exercise.  Hokanson suggested that Rodney Tucker with Iowa DNR also be informed, in case there was interest in participation.


SONS 2007 Exercise

John Whitaker indicated that he planned to attend the SONS Concept Development Conference (CDC) on November 9, 2005 in St. Louis. Whitaker further requested that Ann Whelan proceed with her update regarding SONS. 


Whelan indicated that Emergency Response staff from 10 of the 11 participating states plan to attend the November 9th CDC.  Whelan indicated that recent (hurricane) events had created a heightened interest in the SONS exercise (e.g. NORTHCOM is interested in participation).  She is working on a structure for participation in exercise, including possible private sector participants. Whelan indicated that dates for exercise (June 19-21, 2007) remain unchanged, though there has been pressure from some groups to modify dates.  She asked the group to provide her with any questions/feedback regarding SONS, most specifically ideas related to the followup stages of the exercise.  Roger Lauder indicated that he would provide email comments to Whelan, and was also planning to participate in November 9th CDC.


Net Environmental Benefits Analysis (NEBA)

Ann Whelan stated that next NEBA event is tentatively scheduled for December 10, 2005 in Savanna, IL – although she felt it was unlikely to take place at that time, and was more likely to happen in late February.  Whelan further suggested that there could be a possibility of combining the Savanna NEBA event with the next UMR Spills Group meeting (though this might require meeting in Galena or Dubuque).


Spills Plan MOA and Updates

Dave Hokanson indicated that the MOA has been circulating and has made it at least as far as IL EPA.  Roger Lauder stated that he would double-check the signature status, though he thought it should have been signed and sent along.  Hokanson stated Steve Faryan at US EPA Region 5 was next recipient and that, since he had been out of the office for extended periods of time, it was possible the MOA had made it to him but receipt had not been acknowledged. Ann Whelan and Barbi Lee indicated that they could check on whether Faryan had received. Hokanson noted that, because subsequent recipients at USACE and USCG may have been moved from normal duty station due to hurricane response, it would be appropriate to reassess signature chain once the MOA was located.


Hokanson also mentioned that updates to the plan – in particular discharger lists – were still being accepted and he suggested establishing a final deadline (in approximately 1 month) for any further changes.  There were no objections to this plan.


Emergency Action Field Guide

Dave Hokanson started discussion on the guide, indicating that content & audience seem to have been fairly well established, but that formatting and distribution were still to be addressed and finalized.


Gary Haden noted that some text (word “Association” and UMRBA contact info) had been dropped from the paragraph entitled “Upper Mississippi River Spill Response Plan” in the EPA-revised version of the document.  Also, he suggested dropping the word “interstate” when referring to the UMR.


Dave Morrison indicated that the 800 number for Minnesota Duty Officer should be used (1-800-422-0798) rather than the 651 area code number currently shown.


Barbi Lee noted that the term “channel training structures” did not seem correct and others concurred.  Hokanson suggested dropping it if it could not be clarified. Lee further noted that it would be to clarify that the “When In Doubt, Notify” section applied for everyone, including ordinary citizens. Other group members concurred.


Lee indicated that she sought to get feedback from Eddie McGlasson and others who had worked on the guide before it would be finalized.  She also requested that the group provide her feedback on whether to pursue an 8.5 x 11 format (vs. the fold-over format provided in EPA draft). Roger Lauder indicated that he was already using & distributing the 8.5 x 11 version that had been developed earlier by the Group.  Other commenters favored 8.5 x 11 format and Group consensus appeared to be that the 8.5 x 11 format was preferable. Lee indicated that she, along with Ann Whelan, would take the lead in going back to EPA graphic artist to pursue revisions and 8.5 x 11 format. Hokanson indicated he would provide document in Word format to Lee.


In response to a question from Hokanson, Whelan indicated that she felt the guide should be a joint effort of the UMRBA and EPA – in the sense that EPA would create and maintain the document itself, but that UMRBA would be responsible for revisions, updates, and distribution lists.  Hokanson then requested that the group consider distribution and perhaps begin providing lists to UMRBA.


Next Meeting

Gary Haden suggested that meeting in early March 2006 might be advantageous, as it would likely be ahead of potential flooding season. Whelan and Lee indicated that early March would be best to avoid conflict with EPA training later in March.  Hokanson stated he would come up with proposed dates and send to the group.  He further indicated that the Quad Cities was the likely meeting location.  He will confer with Tim Ganz regarding participation and availability of UMR Water Suppliers Coalition.


Conclusion and Adjournment

Hokanson thanked all for participation and call ended at 11 a.m.