Effects of residential development on the water quality of Higgins Lake, Michigan 1995-99

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4055

In cooperation with Gerrish and Lyon Townships, Roscommon County, Michigan, Higgins Lake Property Association and Higgins Lake Foundation



Higgins Lake, a popular recreation area in the north-central Lower Peninsula of Michigan, drains an area of 58 square miles and is composed of two deep basins separated by a narrow channel between Flag Point and Point Detroit.The North and South Basins have a maximum depth of about 141 and 100 feet respectively. Ground-water inflow is the major source of the lake’s water supply, with precipitation and inflow from two small tributaries providing the remaining water.

The quality of the lake water near shore has been affected by residential development. The concentration of chloride and turbidity in the lake water near the shore increases with increases in building and road density. Nitrogen concentration in lake water near shore also has increased the most in areas where buildings exceed a density of 0.50 building per acre. Ground water beneath the lake showed higher concentrations of phosphorus, nitrogen, chloride, and boron than the lake-water samples. Escherichia Coliform (E. coli) bacteria was found in ground water at sites where building density exceeded 0.40 building per acre, indicating that water from septic systems, is leaching to the ground water that flows to the lake. Phosphorus concentration in lake and ground water appears to be more affected by site-specific conditions, such as soil type and distance of sampling sites from individual septic systems, than by building density alone.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of residential development on the water quality of Higgins Lake, Michigan 1995-99
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Lansing, MI
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
v, 28 p.
United States
Roscommon Counry
Other Geospatial:
Higgins Lake