The practice of storing South Platte River water in offstream reservoirs reduces nutrient concentrations but also contributes to the growth of algae, which may adversely affect the recreational use of the reservoirs. Results of a study of five offstream reservoirs in the lower South Platte River Basin during the 1995 irrigation season showed that the reservoirs trapped 20 to 88 percent of incoming nitrogen and phosphorus, except for phosphorus in one reservoir. Total nitrogen concentrations in the reservoirs were highest in March and decreased through September, largely as a result of uptake by algae and other aquatic life for growth. Total phosphorus concentrations in the reservoirs were more variable because of the recycling of phosphorus by aquatic life. Chlorophyll-a concentrations indicated that the amount of algae in all reservoirs increased during the summer and that all reservoirs were eutrophic. This study was done by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program.
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USGS Numbered Series
What happens to nutrients in offstream reservoirs in the lower South Platte River basin?