State and Regional Water-Quality Characteristics and Trophic Conditions of Michigan's Inland Lakes, 2001-2005

Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5188

Prepared in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality



The U.S. Geological Survey and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are jointly monitoring selected water-quality constituents of inland lakes through 2015 as part of Michigan's Lake Water Quality Assessment program. During 2001-2005, 433 lake basins from 364 inland lakes were monitored for baseline water-quality conditions and trophic status. This report summarizes the water-quality characteristics and trophic conditions of those monitored lake basins throughout the State. Regional variation of water quality in lake basins was examined by grouping on the basis of the five Omernik level III ecoregions within Michigan. Concentrations of most constituents measured were significantly different between ecoregions. Less regional variation of phosphorus concentrations was noted between Northern Lakes and Forests (50) and North Central Hardwoods (51) ecoregions during summer possibly because water samples were collected when lake productivity was high; hence the utilization of the limited amount of phosphorus by algae and macrophytes may have resulted in the more uniform concentrations between these two ecoregions. Concentrations of common ions (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate) measured in the spring typically were higher in the Michigan southern Lower Peninsula in the Eastern Corn Belt Plains (55), Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana Drift Plains (56), and Huron/Erie Lake Plains (57) ecoregions. Most ions whose concentrations were less than the minimum reporting levels or were nondetectable were from lakes in the Michigan northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula in the Northern Lakes and Forests (50) and North Central Hardwoods (51) ecoregions. Chlorophyll a concentrations followed a similar distribution pattern. Measured properties such as pH and specific conductance (indicative of dissolved solids) also showed a regional relation. The lakes with the lowest pH and specific conductance were generally in the western Upper Peninsula (Northern Lakes and Forests (50) ecoregion). The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality classifies Michigan lakes on the basis of their primary biological productivity or trophic characteristics using the Carlson Trophic State Index. Trophic evaluations based on data collected from 2001 through 2005 indicate 17 percent of the lakes are oligotrophic, 53 percent are mesotrophic, 22 percent are eutrophic, 4 percent are hypereutrophic, and less than 5 percent are classified into transition classes between each major class. Although the distribution of lakes throughout Michigan or between Omernik level III ecoregions is not uniform, about 85 percent of the lakes classified as oligotrophic are in the Northern Lakes and Forests (50) or North Central Hardwoods (51) ecoregions. Nearly 28 percent of all the lakes in each of these two ecoregions were classified as oligotrophic. Historical trophic-state classes were compared to the current (2001 through 2005) trophic-state classes. Approximately 72 percent of lakes remained in the same trophic-state class, 11 percent moved up a partial or full class (indicating a decrease in water clarity) and 18 percent moved down a partial or full class (indicating an increase in water clarity).

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USGS Numbered Series
State and Regional Water-Quality Characteristics and Trophic Conditions of Michigan's Inland Lakes, 2001-2005
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
iv, 58 p.
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