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The Fox Chain of Lakes is a glacial lake system in McHenry and Lake Counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Sedimentation and nutrient overloading have occurred in the lake system since the first dam was built (1907) in McHenry to raise water levels in the lake system. Using data collected from December 1, 1997, to June 1, 1999, suspended-sediment budgets were constructed for the most upstream lake in the system, Grass Lake, and for the lakes downstream from Grass Lake. A total of 64,900 tons of suspended sediment entered Grass Lake during the study, whereas a total of 70,600 tons of suspended sediment exited the lake, indicating a net scour of 5,700 tons of sediment. A total of 44,100 tons of suspended sediment was measured exiting the Fox Chain of Lakes at Johnsburg, whereas 85,600 tons entered the system downstream from Grass Lake. These suspended-sediment loads indicate a net deposition of 41,500 tons downstream from Grass Lake, which represents a trapping efficiency of 48.5 percent. A large amount of recreational boating takes place on the Fox Chain of Lakes during summer months, and suspended-sediment load was observed to rise from 110 tons per day to 339 tons per day during the 1999 Memorial Day weekend (May 26 ?31, 1999). Presumably, this rise was the result of the boating traffic because no other hydrologic event is known to have occurred that might have caused the rise. This study covers a relatively short period and may not represent the long-term processes of the Fox Chain of Lakes system, although the sediment transport was probably higher than an average year. The bed sediments found on the bottom of the lakes are composed of mainly fine particles in the silt-clay range. The Grass Lake sediments were characterized as black peat with an organic content of between 9 and 18 percent, and the median particle size ranged from 0.000811 to 0.0013976 inches. Other bed material samples were collected at streamflow-gaging stations on the tributaries to the Fox Chain of Lakes. With the exception of Grass Lake Outlet at Lotus Woods, most of the bed sediments are sand size or larger. The bed material at the streamflow-gaging station at Grass Lake Outlet at Lotus Woods contains 31.5 percent silt- and clay-sized particles. The bed material at Nippersink Creek near Spring Grove also has higher silt content (10.7 percent) than the bed material found in the Fox River at Wilmot (2.1 percent) and Johnsburg (1.3 percent). Additionally, water velocities at 80 cross sections in the Fox Chain of Lakes were collected to provide sample circulation patterns during two separate 1-week periods, and discharge was measured at 18 locations in the lakes. These data were collected to be available for use in hydrodynamic models.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Suspended-sediment budget, flow distribution, and lake circulation for the Fox Chain of Lakes in Lake and McHenry Counties, Illinois, 1997-99
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Branch of Information Services [distributor],
iv, 23 p. :ill. (some col.), maps ;28 cm.; 1 over-size sheet, scale 1:16,000 (1 inch = about 1333 feet).