319 Water Quality Project in University City

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River Des Peres – Southwest Branch

Water Quality Improvement Project


The City of University City has been awarded a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (the department), Division of Environmental Quality, Water Protection Program (WPP). This grant is to protect and improve the quality of water entering of the River Des Peres by identifying and implementing systems to prevent nonpoint source contaminants throughout the watershed from entering the receiving tributaries. The grant funds 60 percent of the total project costs; the City match is 40 percent of the total project costs.

The River Des Peres watershed is a 114 square-mile area. The River Des Peres is listed on the 2002 303(d) list for low dissolved oxygen (DO), with the source of impairment being urban nonpoint sources. The river extends approximately 20 miles through St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis before discharging into the Mississippi River. The University City branch of the watershed encompasses 8,200 acres in east central St. Louis County. Land in the watershed falls in hydrologic unit code (HUC) 07140101070003 and is almost completely developed. One third of the watershed area is within University City's jurisdiction. University City has a population of approximately 40,000 residents with diverse religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Two segments of the river that are on the 303(d) list are in HUC 07140101070003, one going through University City and the other within the City of St. Louis boundary. The impaired segments of the River Des Peres are not classified waters because they only flow during storm events and do not maintain pools that support aquatic life. The classified portion of the River Des Peres is within HUC code 0714010107004 and is the downstream-most 2.5 miles of the river, which is approximately 12 miles downstream of a USGS sampling site. The project area focuses on the River Des Peres segments within University City.

Part of the project area is in Ruth Park Woods which has a mulch pile processing site, and Ruth Park Golf Course located along Olive Blvd, east of I-170. The southwest branch tributary runs from west to east for approximately 2,500 feet along the northern edge of the study-area between McKnight Rd. and Olive Blvd. The river is conveyed in a concrete channel upstream of the project area and enters a culvert just downstream of the project area. The left bank is nearly vertical, devoid of vegetation with an apparent scour line at higher flows. The right bank is steep and over 25 feet high. It has little vegetation with fallen mature trees up to one foot in diameter at breast height. Severe erosion is evident on both slopes.

Water quality degradation to the River Des Peres project area could be affected by on-site factors such as stream bank erosion, rill and gully erosion, and contamination from the mulch pile and golf course. Off-site factors include upstream residential areas and businesses, combined sewer overflows and storm water created by a large impervious area.