Hydrology, water quality, and phosphorus loading of Little St Germain Lake, Vilas County, Wisconsin

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4209




Little St. Germain Lake, which is in Vilas County. Wisconsin, just northeast of St. Germain (fig. 1), is one of 21 impoundments operated by Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company (WVIC) to provide storage for power and recreational use. The level of the lake, which was originally dammed in 1882, has been maintained by the WVIC at about 5 feet above its natural level since 1929, and it is annually drawn down about 1.5 feet from December through March. In the interest of protecting and improving the water quality of the lake, the Little St. Germain Lake Improvement Association was established in 1959. Later, the I .ittle St. Germain Lake District was formed. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), in collaboration with the Lake District, did a study during 1983-85 to document the water quality of the lake and examine management alternatives (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1985). Results of the study indicated that, because of relatively high phosphorus loading to the lake, most of the lake was eutrophic (relatively productive), with the possible exception of the West Bay. The results also indicated monitoring of the lake should continue, and that actions should be taken to decrease nutrient loading to the lake by controlling erosion, fertilizer runoff, and leakage from septic systems.

The lake was monitored in detail again during 1991-94 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of a cooperative study with the Lake District. This study demonstrated water-quality variation among the basins of Little St. Germain Lake and extensive areas of winter anoxia (absence of oxygen). Further in-depth studies were then conducted during 1994-2000 to define the extent of winter anoxia, refine the hydrologic and phosphorus budgets of the lake, quantify the effects of annual drawdowns, and provide information needed to develop a comprehensive lake-management plan. This report presents the results of the studies since 1991.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology, water quality, and phosphorus loading of Little St Germain Lake, Vilas County, Wisconsin
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
8 p.
United States
Vilas County
Other Geospatial:
Little St. Germain Lake
Online Only (Y/N):
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