Total phosphorus (TP) inputs to Lake Simcoe have led to hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen (DO) depletion and loss of cold water fish habitat. Since 1990, efforts have been made to reduce the total TP input to the lake below a defined target of 75 t/year, which was predicted to lead to reductions in spring TP concentration and improvements in end-of-summer hypolimnetic DO concentrations. The total TP load to the lake during the most recent period of record (1998/99–2003/04) ranged from 53 to 76 t/yr and averaged 67 t/yr, compared to an average of 114 t/yr estimated between 1990/91 and 1997/98 (range 85–157 t/yr). Reductions in TP loads from the catchment via tributary discharge (~26 t) accounted for the majority of the decrease in total load between the two time periods. Total P concentrations decreased significantly in four out of six long-term monitored tributaries; however, concentrations in all six tributaries remain above the level recommended to avoid nuisance plant growth (30 μg/L). Although TP loads to the lake are currently below the target 75 t/yr, excessive growths of filamentous algae and macrophytes continue to be a problem in the nearshore zone. End-of-summer minimum hypolimnetic DO concentrations (average 4.3 mg/L, 1998/99–2003/04) remain substantially below the level (7 mg/L) that is considered protective of lake trout. Efforts to reduce TP loads to the lake therefore need to continue.
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Vol. 33 • No. 2