Water Quality - Watersheds, Illinois State Water Survey

Water Quality

Northeastern Counties

Predictability of Nutrient Loads Delivered to Lake Michigan Based on Large Storm Events

Principal Investigators: Alena Bartosova, Momcilo Markus, Timothy Ehlinger

Project Staff: Siddhartha Verma, William Gillespie

Sponsor: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Project Period: October 2010 – September 2012

The effects of multiple stressors on Great Lakes habitats are a growing concern. Nutrient loadings delivered to Lake Michigan are linked to increased risk of eutrophication, algal bloom, hypoxia, or changes in species composition. The overall goal of this project is to increase our understanding of climate-watershed-stream-lake interactions, in particular to enable assessments of variable climate and anthropogenic impacts on Lake Michigan nutrient inputs. Specific goals of this research are to: (1) characterize relationships between annual nutrient loadings on Lake Michigan tributaries and large precipitation events; (2) propose effective monitoring plans focusing on large precipitation events; and (3) assess potential future changes in nutrient loadings based on climate change and urbanization scenarios.

This research focuses on identifying and characterizing large storm events and identifying how these events relate to nutrient loads transported in receiving waters. It will provide watershed managers with a practical tool that will quantify loads carried with the large storm events, quantify changes in annual nutrient loads as related to precipitation changes or changes in watershed characteristics, estimate nutrient loads from tributaries with limited or no water quality data, and aid in the design of a cost-effective monitoring network. The tool will enable prediction of future changes in nutrient loads as they are affected by climate change and increased urban development. The results of this research also will enable watershed planners and managers to identify priority watersheds that contribute the largest nutrient loads and focus monitoring activities effectively on events that carry significant loads.

Project Publications:

Bartosova, A., M. Markus, and S. Verma, 2011. Predictability of Nutrient Loads delivered to Great Lakes based on Critical Storm Events. Annual Progress Report to Illinois Indiana Sea Grant. Funded through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Lake Michigan

Illinois State Water Survey

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