An introduction to Lake of the Woods—from science to governance in an international waterbody

TitleAn introduction to Lake of the Woods—from science to governance in an international waterbody
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAnderson JP, Paterson D.Andrew M, Reavie ED, Edlund MB, Rühland KM
JournalLake and Reservoir Management

ABSTRACTAnderson JP, Paterson AM, Reavie ED, Edlund MB, Rühland, KM. 2017. An introduction to Lake of the Woods – from science to governance in an international water body. Lake Reserv Manage. 33:00–00.Lake of the Woods (LOW), a vast lake covering over 3850 km2, is a waterbody of current and historical significance that spans the borders between Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. Over the past 2 decades, there has been concern for the water quality of LOW, sparked by anecdotal evidence of increased intensity and frequency of algal blooms by the public and resource managers. Minnesota's waters of LOW were declared impaired in 2008 due to exceedances of eutrophication criteria, initiating a Total Maximum Daily Load study. LOW's impairment declaration spurred several contrasting challenges and opportunities for water quality management across this diverse lake and basin. Governance challenges are emphasized by the large number of government agencies (>25) with land or water authorities in the 70,000 km2 basin, the variability in phosphorus standards applicable to LOW between Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba, and unequal funding resources allocated to LOW's water quality management agencies. Despite these challenges, there is a long history of international cooperation among agencies, recent funding increases, and the formation of a new International Joint Commission Board with the mandate to monitor ecosystem health in the entire LOW basin. As highlighted by the studies in this issue, the science of nutrient and algal dynamics in LOW is complex, and water quality restoration may take years to decades because major sources of nutrients to the lake are not subject to reductions by conventional lake restoration methods. An overview of papers in this special issue is provided.

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