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Learn General Facts about Lakes

written by: Tony Smejek•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/1/2010

Let us delve into world of general facts about lakes. This is a journey into a lake structure, characteristics, and environmental issues impacting water quality of lakes as well.

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    Characteristics of a Lake

    Lakes are bodies of water generally developed in a geologic basin on the surface of the planet and are surrounded by land. They come in all varieties of depths and sizes, and are typically freshwater. They exist inland only and do not connect with any ocean or sea.

    The ecological environment or limnology of a lake consists of 3 zones: the littoral, photic, and benthic zones. The littoral zone of a lake consists of the underwater area sloping towards the shore; the photic zone is the area of water closest to the surface where sunlight is plentiful; and the benthic zone is the deepest part of the lake where sunlight cannot reach.

    An interesting piece of information - to most people, a reservoir is indeed a lake, but more specifically, it is a man-made lake created by a dam. When water backs up behind the dam, it creates a body of water, which then creates the reservoir. Let's examine more general facts about lakes.

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    Environmental Impacts on Lakes

    The environmental conditions a lake may contain depends on a variety of factors: the watershed, geology, climate, human influence, and the lake characteristics. With a constant collection of data and readings collected on these lakes, no one can come to a real conclusion to provide any understanding or even make predictions of a specific lake. Each lake has its own uniqueness, and thus can only be compared to data collected from other lakes.

    There are issues involving the conditions of lakes. Eutrophication is a situation in which a lake can naturally take on natural, chemical, and biological changes. Over time, this can alter the ecology of a lake to an unfavorable outcome. For instance, some effects of water pollution can cause algal blooms ,which is a rapid growth of algae in a body of water, that can cause dissolved oxygen depletion, which can result in fish kills. These blooms can be naturally occurring, but others can be man-made influences, for instance, agricultural pollution run-offs that tend to carry fertilizers into the water system. Fertilizers are great for farm products, but fertilizing the water can cause an overwhelming amount of needless plant growth that can choke of oxygen right out of a lake.

    There are also biological influences such as invasive plants that overrun lakes. This can replace the native plants creating a monoculture, impeding water flow, and reducing aquatic plant diversity which can cause lower water quality. An example of such an invasive plant is the ever popular torpedo grass. Due to the root and leaf structure of this invasive plant, it actually encourages storm water nutrient run off from streets and urban areas straight into the lake, while native plants are helpful in absorbing nutrient run off, and thus keeping water quality to an acceptable level.

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    Lake Improvement and Water Quality

    There are currently lake restoration projects in place that contribute to the water pollution solution, such as invasive plant removal projects. Replacing invasive plants with native plants can restore water quality back to the lakes.

Water Quality and Concerns

This content will cover issues involving water quality. Such subjects that will be touched on will be effects on water quality by external influences, water quality improvement, data collection and research.
  1. Learn General Facts about Lakes
  2. A Closer Look at The Meaning of Eutrophication
  3. Average Precipitation Levels for the Everglades