Donald Scavia


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On the Role of a Large Shallow Lake (Lake St. Clair, USA‐Canada) in Modulating Phosphorus Loads to Lake Erie
Serghei A. Bocaniov, Philippe Van Cappellen, Donald Scavia
Water Resources Research, Volume 55, Issue 12

It is often assumed that large shallow water bodies are net sediment nondepositional annually and that if they have nutrient loads from multiple sources, those loads are quickly homogenized before exiting the water bodies. Where this is not the case, it impacts understanding and predicting consequences of nutrient load reductions, both for the water body and for those downstream of it. We applied a three‐dimensional ecological model to a large shallow lake, Lake St. Clair (US/Canada), to quantify the total and dissolved reactive phosphorus (TP and DRP) transport and retention, and construct tributary‐specific relationships between phosphorus load to the lake and the amount of phosphorus that leaves the lake for the three major tributaries. Lake St. Clair is situated between the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, the latter enters Lake Erie. Efforts to reduce Lake Erie's re‐eutrophication requires an understanding of nutrient transport and retention in each of its subwatersheds including those that feed indirectly via Lake St. Clair. We found that over the simulation period, the lake retained a significant portion of TP (17%) and DRP (35%) load and that TP and DRP retention was spatially variable and largely controlled by a combination of lake depth, resuspension, and plankton uptake. Compared to the Clinton and Sydenham rivers, the Thames River contributed a larger proportion of its load to the lake's outflow. However, because the lake's load is dominated by the St. Clair River, 40% reductions of nutrients from those subwatersheds will result in less than a 5% reduction in the load to Lake Erie.

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Detroit River phosphorus loads: Anatomy of a binational watershed
Donald Scavia, Serghei A. Bocaniov, Awoke Dagnew, Yao Hu, Branko Kerkez, Christopher Long, Rebecca Logsdon Muenich, Jennifer Read, Lynn Vaccaro, Yu Chen Wang
Journal of Great Lakes Research, Volume 45, Issue 6

Abstract As a result of increased harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in Lake Erie, the US and Canada revised their phosphorus loading targets under the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The focus of this paper is the Detroit River and its watershed, a source of 25% of the total phosphorus (TP) load to Lake Erie. Its load declined 37% since 1998, due chiefly to improvements at the regional Great Lakes Water Authority Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) in Detroit and phosphorus sequestered by zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Huron. In addition to the 54% of the load from Lake Huron, nonpoint sources contribute 57% of the TP load and 50% of the dissolved reactive phosphorus load, with the remaining balance from point sources. After Lake Huron, the largest source is the WRRF, which has already reduced its load by over 40%. Currently, loads from Lake Huron and further reductions from the WRRF are not part of the reduction strategy, therefore remaining watershed sources will need to decline by 72% to meet the Water Quality Agreement target - a daunting challenge. Because other urban sources are very small, most of the reduction would have to come from agriculturally-dominated lands. The most effective way to reduce those loads is to apply combinations of practices like cover crops, buffer strips, wetlands, and applying fertilizer below the soil surface on the lands with the highest phosphorus losses. However, our simulations suggest even extensive conservation on those lands may not be enough.

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St. Clair-Detroit River system: Phosphorus mass balance and implications for Lake Erie load reduction, monitoring, and climate change
Donald Scavia, Serghei A. Bocaniov, Awoke Dagnew, Christopher Long, Yu-Chen Wang
Journal of Great Lakes Research, Volume 45, Issue 1

Abstract To support the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement on reducing Lake Erie's phosphorus inputs, we integrated US and Canadian data to update and extend total phosphorus (TP) loads into and out of the St. Clair-Detroit River System for 1998–2016. The most significant changes were decreased loads from Lake Huron caused by mussel-induced oligotrophication of the lake, and decreased loads from upgraded Great Lakes Water Authority sewage treatment facilities in Detroit. By comparing Lake St. Clair inputs and outputs, we demonstrated that on average the lake retains 20% of its TP inputs. We also identified for the first time that loads from resuspended Lake Huron sediment were likely not always detected in US and Canadian monitoring programs due to mismatches in sampling and resuspension event frequencies, substantially underestimating the load. This additional load increased over time due to climate-induced decreases in Lake Huron ice cover and increases in winter storm frequencies. Given this more complete load inventory, we estimated that to reach a 40% reduction in the Detroit River TP load to Lake Erie, accounting for the missed load, point and non-point sources other than that coming from Lake Huron and the atmosphere would have to be reduced by at least 50%. We also discuss the implications of discontinuous monitoring efforts.


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Nutrient Loss Rates in Relation to Transport Time Scales in a Large Shallow Lake (Lake St. Clair, USA—Canada): Insights From a Three‐Dimensional Model
Serghei A. Bocaniov, Donald Scavia
Water Resources Research, Volume 54, Issue 6

A nutrient mass balance and a three‐dimensional, coupled hydrodynamic‐ecological model, calibrated and validated for Lake St. Clair with observations from 2009 and 2010, were integrated to estimate monthly lake‐scale nutrient loss rates, and to calculate 3 monthly transport time scales: flushing time, water age, and water residence time. While nutrient loss rates had statistically significant relationships with all transport time scale measures, water age had the strongest explanatory power, with water age and nutrient loss rates both smaller in spring and fall and larger in summer. We show that Lake St. Clair is seasonally divided into two discrete regions of contrasting water age and productivity. The north‐western region is dominated by oligotrophic waters from the St. Clair River, and south‐eastern region is dominated by the nutrient enriched, more productive waters from the Thames‐Sydenham River complex. The spatial and temporal variations in local transport scales and nutrient loss rates, coupled with strong seasonal variations in discharge and nutrient loads from the major tributaries, suggest the need for different load reduction strategies for different tributaries.