Pike Lake is a 459-acre, mesotrophic to eutrophic dimictic lake in southeastern Wisconsin. Because of concern over degrading water quality in the lake associated with further development in its watershed, a study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey from 1998 to 2000 to describe the water quality and hydrology of the lake, quantify sources of phosphorus including the effects of short-circuiting of inflows, and determine how changes in phosphorus loading should affect the water quality of the lake. Measuring all significant water and phosphorus sources and estimating lesser sources was the method used to construct detailed water and phosphorus budgets. The Rubicon River, ungaged near-lake surface inflow, precipitation, and ground water provide 55, 20, 17, and 7 percent of the total inflow, respectively. Water leaves the lake through the Rubicon River outlet (87 percent) or by evaporation (13 percent). Total input of phosphorus to the lake was about 3,500 pounds in 1999 and 2,400 pounds in 2000. About 80 percent of the phosphorus was from the Rubicon River, about half of which came from the watershed and half from a waste-water treatment plant in Slinger, Wisconsin. Inlet-to-outlet short-circuiting of phosphorus is facilitated by a meandering segment of the Rubicon River channel through a marsh at the north end of the lake. It is estimated that 77 percent of phosphorus from the Rubicon River in monitoring year 1999 and 65 percent in monitoring year 2000 was short-circuited to the outlet without entering the main body of the lake.
Simulations using water-quality models within the Wisconsin Lake Model Suite (WiLMS) indicated Pike Lake's response to 13 different phosphorus-loading scenarios. These scenarios included a base 'normal' year (2000) for which lake water quality and loading were known, six different percentage increases or decreases in phosphorus loading from controllable sources, and six different loading scenarios corresponding to specific management actions. Model simulations indicate that a 50-percent reduction in controllable loading sources would be needed to achieve a mesotrophic classification with respect to phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and Secchi depth (an index of water clarity). Model simulations indicated that short-circuiting of phosphorus from the inlet to the outlet was the main reason the water quality of the lake is good relative to the amount of loading from the Rubicon River and that changes in the percentage of inlet-to-outlet short-circuiting have a significant influence on the water quality of the lake.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water quality, hydrology, and the effects of changes in phosphorus loading to Pike Lake, Washington County, Wisconsin, with special emphasis on inlet-to-outlet short-circuiting