Effect of urban runoff on the quality of lakes in Eagan, Minnesota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4331

Prepared in cooperation with the city of Eagan, Minnesota



Sixteen lakes in the city of Eagan, Minnesota, were sampled during 1982-83 to detect water-quality changes that might have occurred because of urbanization since a previous study conducted during 1972-78. Each of the lakes was sampled five times to determine pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, transparency, and concentration of dissolved chloride. Three determinations of chlorophyll were made for each of the lakes near the end of the study, and additional determinations were made for a few lakes of particular interest.

Most of the lakes have been incorporated into the city's storm-runoff system for use as retention basins during large storms. The chemistry of the lakes appears to be degraded by urban runoff. Chloride concentrations were significantly higher in six lakes than during the previous study, and remained elevated (about 30 milligrams per liter) in four other lakes. The association between increased chloride and specific conductance with runoff from urban areas suggests that the lakes are subject to contamination by chloride commonly present in urban runoff, and chloride concentrations harmful to aquatic life may have been associated with high specific conductance measured in one of the lakes.

Analysis of the data collected for this study indicate that the chemistry of the lakes changes, adjusting to a variety of influences including (1) alternate loading and flushing by runoff, (2) excessive average-annual precipitation, (3) changing ground-water and lake interactions, and (4) changing land use in the lake watersheds. Some lakes affected by urban runoff had reduced concentrations of total phosphorus; however, other lakes unaffected by urban runoff also had significantly lower phosphorus, suggesting that increased precipitation may have diluted the lake water. Ten phosphorus-loading models tested or developed during the previous study generally were found to be inadequate for describing the results of this study. The trophic status of 12 lakes improved but declined in the other 4 lakes, and productivity increased 38 percent in what had been the least-eutrophic lake.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Effect of urban runoff on the quality of lakes in Eagan, Minnesota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
St. Paul, MN
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
iv, 64 p.
United States
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