Phosphorus sorption and potantial phosphorus storage in sediments of Lake Istokpoga and the upper chain of Lakes, Florida, USA

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Received for publication October 7, 2007. Phosphorus (P) can be an important nutrient in regulating primary productivity in lakes. The ability of lake sediments to retain P from external sources depends on the physiochemical characteristics of the sediment. To assess the P dynamics in Lake Istokpoga and the upper chain of lakes that drain into Lake Okeechobee, Florida, USA, sorption properties of batch sediment samples for Lakes Tohopekaliga, Cypress, Hatchineha, Kissimmee, and Istokpoga were characterized under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Langmuir model parameters fit the experimental data well (in general, r2 > 0.70). There were strong correlations between P sorption and total C, total P, Ca, Mg, Fe, and Al (r = 0.83–0.97). Equilibrium P concentration values ranged between 0.001 and 0.192 mg L–1 for aerobic conditions. A single-point isotherm (initial concentration, 5 mg L–1) was found for a wide range of sediment types, which allows estimation of the maximum potential sorption (Smax) as 1.7 times the sorption (Smax = 1.7 S5). Results suggest that although these sediments have high P sorption capacities, the lake sediments may release P into the water column by desorption under aerobic conditions if water-column P concentrations are low enough (<0.036 mg L–1 for Lake Tohopekaliga and <0.003–0.027 mg L–1 for the other four lakes). Current watershed management strategies must balance efforts to reduce P inputs into the lakes from point and nonpoint sources against lowering the water-column P concentration to such a low level that the lake sediments become a source of P to downstream Lake Okeechobee.

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