Cave Springs Lake Nutrient Study

Funding Agency: Illinois River Watershed Partnership

Project timeline: April 2017 - unknown

The lake at Cave Springs, named Lake Keith, experiences episodes of excessive algal growth, called algal blooms. Algal blooms can be caused by too many nutrients in the water, which promote the growth of algae.

But, too much algae can cause major issues in lakes. For example, algae can actually cause a severe decrease in oxygen in the water. This is because algae only produce oxygen during the day when they photosynthesize using sunlight, but at night, algae and bacteria respire, which uses up lots of oxygen. This reduction in the amount of oxygen dissolved in water can cause fish kills. Also, algal blooms tend to stink and are unsightly.

The goal of this nutrient study is to figure out how much nitrogen and phosphorus is in the water. Also, what are the main sources of nutrients? Are they flowing into the lake from the cave, or are they being released from the sediment at the bottom of the lake?

To answer these questions, researchers at the Arkansas Water Resources Center are collecting water samples at different locations within the lake. Back at the lab, those samples are analyzed for nutrients. The researchers are also collecting sediment cores to better understand how much phosphorus might be released from the lake bottom.

Ultimately, this water quality data will help those who manage the lake make a scientifically informed decision about how to fix the problem of too much algae.

Cave Springs Lake Keith
Algal growth in Lake Keith at Cave Springs, Arkansas.