Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Updates to the Madison Lake (Minnesota) CE–QUAL–W2 water-quality model for assessing algal community dynamics

November 6, 2019

A previously developed CE–QUAL–W2 model for Madison Lake, Minnesota, simulated the algal community dynamics, water quality, and fish habitat suitability of Madison Lake under recent (2014) meteorological conditions. Additionally, this previously developed model simulated the complex interplay between external nutrient loading, internal nutrient loading from sediment release of phosphorus, and the organic matter decomposition of the algal biomass. However, the partitioning of Cyanophyta within the modeling framework was simplified to one group and did not account for how different Cyanophyta populations are affected by light conditions, use of nitrogen, temperature growth ranges, and differences in settling rates. Properly capturing Cyanophyta dynamics is important given the potential risks posed by potential large algal blooms. For example, when Cyanophyta form large blooms, recreational activities can become restricted in certain areas because of thick algal scums or algal mats, in addition to the possible production of a class of toxins, known as cyanotoxins, capable of threatening human health, domestic animals, and wildlife. Therefore, we updated the model to partition the Cyanophyta into a group that fixed nitrogen and a second, more buoyant Cyanophyta group that did not independently fix nitrogen.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the St. Croix Watershed Research Station (Science Museum of Minnesota) with support from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund of Minnesota (Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources), updated the Madison Lake CE–QUAL–W2 model to address the shortcomings of simulating Cyanophyta in the previously developed model and better characterize Cyanophyta into two groups. In addition to updating the Cyanophyta group differentiation, the part of the model that handles the simulation of algal community dynamics was updated while preserving model predictive capabilities for nutrients, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen. The calibration and validation of the model was done under recent meteorological conditions with large and persistent Cyanophyta blooms (2014 and 2016).

Overall, the model simulations predicted the persistently large total phosphorus concentrations in the hypolimnion of Madison Lake and key differences in nutrient concentrations between 2014 and 2016. The Cyanophyta bloom persistence throughout the summer was also simulated by the model in 2014 and 2016, a critical goal of the model update. Finally, monthly total phosphorus budgets were calculated for the updated Madison Lake model for 2014 and 2016.

Related Content