Salton Sea, California, like many other lakes, has become eutrophic because of excessive nutrient loading, primarily phosphorus (P). A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is being prepared for P to reduce the input of P to the Sea. In order to better understand how P-load reductions should affect the average annual water quality of this terminal saline lake, three different eutrophication programs (BATHTUB, WiLMS, and the Seepage Lake Model) were applied. After verifying that specific empirical models within these programs were applicable to this saline lake, each model was calibrated using water-quality and nutrient-loading data for 1999 and then used to simulate the effects of specific P-load reductions. Model simulations indicate that a 50% decrease in external P loading would decrease near-surface total phosphorus concentrations (TP) by 25-50%. Application of other empirical models demonstrated that this decrease in loading should decrease near-surface chlorophyll a concentrations (Chl a) by 17-63% and increase Secchi depths (SD) by 38-97%. The wide range in estimated responses in Chl a and SD were primarily caused by uncertainty in how non-algal turbidity would respond to P-load reductions. If only the models most applicable to the Salton Sea are considered, a 70-90% P-load reduction is required for the Sea to be classified as moderately eutrophic (trophic state index of 55). These models simulate steady-state conditions in the Sea; therefore, it is difficult to ascertain how long it would take for the simulated changes to occur after load reductions. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Additional publication details
Response in the water quality of the Salton Sea, California, to changes in phosphorus loading: An empirical modeling approach