Quantitative Impacts of Lake-Level Stabilization on Material Transfer between Water and Sediment in Newnans Lake, Florida

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Spillways at lake outlets reduce water-level fluctuations but may accelerate sedimentation in the lake. In eutrophic Newnans Lake, Florida, a transect of sedimentary profiles, dated with 210Pb and 137Cs by γ-ray spectroscopy, showed threefold increases in accumulation rates of organic matter, total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), and total phosphorus (TP) 1200 m lakeward of a spillway since its construction in 1967. Concentrations of TKN and TP increased 3.5 and 2.4 times, respectively, in sediments deposited since 1967. These increases were progressively less at stations farther from the spillway. Postspillway accumulation of TP was focused toward the dam whereas recent TKN deposition was similar lakewide. Flocculent sediment ( > 90% water) accumulated at 1.4 cm/yr. Dams designed to reduce water-level fluctuations may provide short-term benefits for lake access and navigation but in the long-term may accelerate deposition of nutrient-rich detritus, reduce lake volume, cloud the water, alter plant communities, and change lake productivity.

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 50, issue 8, p. 1610-1616