Hydrology and water quality of Lauderdale Lakes, Walworth County, Wisconsin, 1993-94

Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4235

Prepared in cooperation with the Lauderdale Lakes Lake Management District
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Water and phosphorus budgets were determined for the Lauderdale Lakes (the interconnected Green, Middle, and Mill Lakes) in Walworth County, southeastern Wisconsin to provide background information for a wastewater management plan to limit the input of phosphorus to the lakes. The most significant components of the water and phosphorus budgets were determined independently by intensive data collection from November 1993 through October 1994. In addition to development of the water and phosphorus budgets, in-lake water quality, and trophic state of the lakes were evaluated.

The lakes (treated as one lake with three basins) have a total surface area of 807 acres. The lakes have a surface-water outlet, but have no major surface inlets. Lake level is controlled by a dam and weir at the outlet. Maximum depths of Green, Middle, and Mill Lakes are about 60, 50, and 50 feet, respectively. The total drainage area of the lakes measured from the outlet is 16.1 square miles; only about 2.5 square miles, however, contribute surface runoff directly to the lake. About 70 percent of the 14.7-mile shoreline length is developed. Shoreline development includes 1,010 houses, of which about 30 percent are used year-round.

Ground water and precipitation are the primary water-budget inflow components, and during the study period represented 72 and 24 percent of the total annual inflow, respectively. Surface-water inflow from the small nearshore contributing drainage area accounted for only 4 percent of the inflow budget. Total annual phosphorus input to the lakes was 846 pounds. Although surface water accounted for only 4 percent of the water budget, it represented 51 percent of the total annual phosphorus input. Phosphorus input from septic systems was the second largest source, with a probable annual input of 210 pounds, accounting for 25 percent of the total. Positive ground-water gradients to the lake and phosphorus concentrations in ground water were verified by data from nearshore observation wells. Phosphorus concentrations in ground water exceeded background concentrations of 0.008 milligrams per liter in three out of six observation wells in the inflow area of the lakes. Overall, the phosphorus loading to the lakes is small and lake-water quality is good. The trophic state indices calculated for the lakes ranged from oligotrophic to mesotrophic but were in the mesotrophic class for most of the year. An equation to predict phosphorus concentration at spring turnover from loading estimates was fairly accurate in predicting the measured phosphorus concentration for Lauderdale Lakes.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology and water quality of Lauderdale Lakes, Walworth County, Wisconsin, 1993-94
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
iv, 29 p.
United States
Walworth County
Other Geospatial:
Green Lake, Lauderdale Lakes, Middle Lake, Mill Lake
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