Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 171, Issue 1, pp 169-184

First online:

An Assessment of the Phosphorus Retention Capacity of Wetlands in the Painter Creek Watershed, Minnesota, USA

  • G. L. BrulandAffiliated withDuke University Wetland Center, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesInstitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida Email author 
  • , C. J. RichardsonAffiliated withDuke University Wetland Center, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences

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Lake Minnetonka, located in southeastern Minnesota, U.S.A., is currently experiencing increased eutrophication due to excessive phosphorus (P) loading in runoff from agriculture and urban areas. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the isolation of wetlands in the surrounding watershed from the surface water drainage network. In order to determine if rerouting surface water through these wetlands would be a feasible method for reducing P inputs, we assessed the P retention capacity of wetlands in a subwatershed of Lake Minnetonka, the Painter Creek Watershed (PCW). The objectives of our study were to determine which of 15 different wetland sites in the PCW had the highest P sorption capacity, identify which soil properties best explained the variability in P sorption, and utilize P fractionation to determine the dominant form of soil P. Our results indicated that despite similar vegetation and hydrogeomorphic settings, wetlands in the PCW had considerably different P sorption capacities. Depth-averaged P sorption index (PSI) values showed considerable variability, ranging from 14.6 to 184. The Katrina Marsh, Painter Marsh, South Highway 26, and West Jennings Bay sites had the highest depth-averaged PSIs. The soil properties that best predicted PSI were soil organic matter, exchangeable calcium, and oxalate extractable iron. Phosphorus fractionation data revealed organic P to be the dominant form of soil P, indicating that organic matter accumulation is another P storage mechanism in these wetlands.


Lake Minnetonka Minnesota phosphorus fractionation phosphorous sorption water quality watershed wetland