Title

Continental-Scale Increase in Lake and Stream Phosphorus: Are Oligotrophic Systems Disappearing in the United States?

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Environmental Science & Technology

Volume

50

Issue

7

Publisher

American Chemical Society

Publication Date

2-25-2016

Keywords

Total Phosphorus, Lakes and Streams, United States, probability surveys, Oligotrophic systems

First Page

3409

Last Page

3415

Abstract

We describe continental-scale increases in lake and stream total phosphorus (TP) concentrations, identified through periodic probability surveys of thousands of water bodies in the conterminous U.S. The increases, observed over the period 2000–2014 were most notable in sites in relatively undisturbed catchments and where TP was initially low (e.g., less than 10 μg L–1). Nationally, the percentage of stream length in the U.S. with TP ≤ 10 μg L–1 decreased from 24.5 to 10.4 to 1.6% from 2004 to 2009 to 2014; the percentage of lakes with TP ≤ 10 μg L–1 decreased from 24.9 to 6.7% between 2007 and 2012. Increasing TP concentrations appear to be ubiquitous, but their presence in undeveloped catchments suggests that they cannot be entirely attributed to either point or common non-point sources of TP.

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