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Turbidity and estimated phosphorus retention in a reconnected Lake Erie coastal wetland

June 9, 2022

Nearly all of the wetlands in the coastal zone of Lake Erie have been degraded or destroyed since the 1860s, and most of those that remain are separated from their watersheds by earthen dikes. Hydrologic isolation of these wetlands disrupts ecosystem benefits typical to Great Lakes coastal wetlands, particularly the ability to trap sediments and retain nutrients when inundated by runoff and lake water. High-frequency measurements of turbidity and discharge were taken in 2013 and 2014 to observe turbidity and water flow dynamics to estimate total phosphorus flux of a hydrologically reconnected diked wetland pool in the Crane Creek-Lake Erie wetland complex. Modeled estimates suggest the reconnected pool retained 8% of the total phosphorus loading in 2013 and 10% in 2014, which included short periods of phosphorus export to Lake Erie. Water flowing out of the wetland generally had lower turbidity than inflowing water, but flux in and out of the pool varied seasonally and was linked to changes in lake-levels, seiche dynamics, and weather conditions. More frequent storms, higher winds, and stronger seiches in the spring and fall created turbidity patterns that suggest more phosphorus retention than in summer or winter. Estimates suggest that phosphorus was released during the summer when higher lake levels and the absence of frequent storms, larger short-term seiche oscillations, and potentially soil oxygen availability were driving flux dynamics. This study demonstrated that reestablishing lake hydrology through reconnection of wetland pools can reduce loading and alter timing of delivery of total phosphorus to Lake Erie.

Publication Year 2022
Title Turbidity and estimated phosphorus retention in a reconnected Lake Erie coastal wetland
DOI 10.3390/w14121853
Authors Glenn Carter, Kurt P. Kowalski, Michael Eggleston
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water
Index ID 70232247
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center