Response of the St. Croix River pools, Wisconsin and Minnesota, to various phosphorus-loading scenarios

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4181

Prepared in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources



The pools in the lower reach of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the adjoining Lake Mallalieu, are eutrophic because of high phosphorus loading. To determine how changes in phosphorus loading would affect the trophic status of these pools, the water-quality model, BATHTUB, was used to simulate existing (1999) water quality and simulate the water quality with various phosphorus-loading scenarios. Water quality in the pools may respond differently during different flow regimes; therefore, sensitivity and scenario evaluations were performed not only for 1999, but also for a simulated period with relatively low flows throughout the basin (using flow data from 1988) and for a simulated period with relatively high flows throughout the basin (using flow data from 1996).

On the basis of the BATHTUB simulations, linear increases in phosphorus loading should cause the following changes in water quality in each of the pools: linear increases in phosphorus concentrations, although at a smaller rate than the increase in loading; non-linear increases in chlorophyll a concentrations, with a smaller relative response with higher phosphorus loading; increase in the frequency of algal blooms, with a higher frequency of intense algal blooms; and slightly decreased water clarity.

The response in water quality to changes in the phosphorus loading should be relatively similar regardless of the flow regime. Reducing phosphorus loading by about 50 percent would be necessary for the Lake St. Croix pools to be classified as mesotrophic with respect to phosphorus and chlorophyll a concentrations, whereas a larger reduction in phosphorus loading would be needed for Lake Mallalieu to be classified as mesotrophic. Even with these reductions, water clarity will remain poor because of the high non-algal turbidity and stained water in the pools.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Response of the St. Croix River pools, Wisconsin and Minnesota, to various phosphorus-loading scenarios
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
vi, 36 p.
United States
Minnesota, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial:
St. Croix River
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