Water Quality Conditions in Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes, Oregon, 2006

Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5201
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By: , and 



The U.S. Geological Survey Upper Klamath Lake water quality monitoring program gathered information from multiparameter continuous water quality monitors, physical water samples, dissolved oxygen production and consumption experiments, and meteorological stations during the June-October 2006 field season. The 2006 study area included Agency Lake and all of Upper Klamath Lake. Seasonal patterns in water quality were similar to those observed in 2005, the first year of the monitoring program, and were closely related to bloom dynamics of the cyanobacterium (blue-green alga) Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) in the two lakes. High dissolved oxygen and pH conditions in both lakes before the bloom declined in July, which coincided with seasonal high temperatures and resulted in seasonal lows in dissolved oxygen and decreased pH. Dissolved oxygen and pH in Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes increased again after the bloom recovered. Seasonal low dissolved oxygen and decreased pH coincided with seasonal highs in ammonia and orthophosphate concentrations. Seasonal maximum daily average temperatures were higher and minimum dissolved oxygen concentrations were lower in 2006 than in 2005. Conditions potentially harmful to fish were influenced by seasonal patterns in bloom dynamics and bathymetry. Potentially harmful low dissolved oxygen and high un-ionized ammonia concentrations occurred mostly at the deepest sites in the Upper Klamath Lake during late July, coincident with a bloom decline. Potentially harmful pH conditions occurred mostly at sites outside the deepest parts of the lake in July and September, coincident with a heavy bloom. Instances of possible gas bubble formation, inferred from dissolved oxygen data, were estimated to occur frequently in shallow areas of Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes simultaneously with potentially harmful pH conditions. Comparison of the data from monitors in nearshore areas and monitors near the surface of the water column in the open waters of Upper Klamath Lake revealed few differences in water quality dynamics. Median daily temperatures were higher in nearshore areas, and dissolved oxygen concentrations were periodically higher as well during periods of high AFA bloom. Differences between the two areas in water quality conditions potentially harmful to fish were not statistically significant (p < 0.05). Chlorophyll a concentrations varied temporally and spatially throughout Upper Klamath Lake. Chlorophyll a concentrations indicated an algal bloom in late June and early July that was followed by an algae bloom decline in late July and early August and a subsequent recovery in mid-August. Sites in the deepest part of the lake, where some of the highest chlorophyll a concentrations were observed, were the same sites where the lowest dissolved oxygen concentrations and the highest un-ionized ammonia concentrations were recorded during the bloom decline, indicating cell senescence. Total phosphorus concentrations limited the initial algal bloom in late June and early July. The rate of net dissolved oxygen production (that is, production in excess of community respiration) and consumption (due to community respiration) in the lake water column as measured in light and dark bottles, respectively, ranged from 2.79 to -2.14 milligrams of oxygen per liter per hour. Net production rate generally correlated positively with chlorophyll a concentration, except episodically at a few sites where high chlorophyll a concentrations resulted in self-shading that inhibited photosynthesis. The depth of photic zone was inversely correlated with chlorophyll a concentration. Calculations of a 24-hour change in dissolved oxygen concentration indicated that oxygen-consuming processes predominated at the deep trench sites and oxygen-producing processes predominated at the shallow sites. In addition, calculations of the 24-hour change in dissolved oxygen indicate that oxygen-consuming processes in the water column di

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water Quality Conditions in Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes, Oregon, 2006
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2008-5201
DOI 10.3133/sir20085201
Edition -
Year Published 2008
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description viii, 55 p.
Time Range Start 2006-06-01
Time Range End 2006-10-31
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details