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Summer Redox Dynamics in a Eutrophic Reservoir and Sensitivity to a Summer’s End Drawdown Event

  • Bridget R. DeemerEmail author
  • John A. Harrison


In eutrophic lakes and reservoirs, reduced mixing during stratified conditions limits oxygen (O2) supply to the hypolimnion (that is, bottom waters). In the absence of an O2 supply, microbial decomposers consume alternative electron acceptors, generally in order of their thermodynamic favorability, releasing soluble, reduced manganese (Mn), iron (Fe) and methane (CH4) to the water column with implications for reservoir water quality and greenhouse gas dynamics. Still, there are very few studies that quantify intra- and inter-annual controls on lake and reservoir redox chemistry, especially in managed systems. To address this knowledge gap, we examined redox-sensitive water column chemistry before and during four summer’s end water-level drawdown events (~ 2 m in magnitude) in a eutrophic reservoir. We observed lower dissolved Fe and CH4 concentrations in years with higher hypolimnion O2 and NO3, suggesting that water column oxidant availability controls the extent of the redox cascade. During drawdowns, dissolved CH4, Mn and Fe concentrations increased in the hypolimnion (on average by 50%, 40% and 175%, respectively) concomitant with order of magnitude increases in methane bubbling rates (that is, ebullition). To our knowledge, this is the first in situ evidence for enhanced flushing of sediment pore water into a reservoir during water-level drawdowns. Furthermore, the mass of CH4, Mn and Fe released varied as a function of summertime redox conditions. Thus, the timing of reservoir water-level drawdowns may determine the degree to which reduced solutes enter the water column during drawdown, with longer pre-drawdown periods of hypolimnion hypoxia leading to higher solute fluxes.


ebullition iron management manganese redox cascade reservoir methane water level 



We thank Homer Adams, Sarah Anderson, Joshua Arnold, Rebecca Bellmore, Keith Birchfield, Melissa Boyd, Alyson Day, Francesca Frattaroli, Dawn Freeman, Kara Goodwin, Alice Harwood, Andrew Harwood, Stephen Henderson, Allison Jacobs, Tammy Lee, Abby Lunstrum, Michelle McCrackin, Cody Miller, Reed Norton, Maria O’Malley, Matt Schult, Natalie Selstad, Michelle Shafer, Emily Ury and Francesca Wignes for valuable help with field and laboratory work. Charles Knaack and Scott Boroughs provided advice and assistance with the ICP-MS, and Cailin Huyck Orr and Leif Sivertsen provided help with the GC. Charles Yackulic and Mike Dodrill provided input regarding the glm modeling. Thanks also to Moose Lodge, Georgia Pacific, the City of Camas and the Lacamas Shores Neighborhood Association. Marc Beutel, Amy Burgin, Lee Bryant, Dan Reed and Stephen Henderson provided valuable comments on initial drafts of this manuscript. This work was funded by NSF-IGERT and EPA-STAR fellowships to B. Deemer as well as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Climate Preparedness and Resilience Programs grant, a National Science Foundation (NSF) ETBC Grant #1045286 and a NSF DEB Grant #1355211 to J. Harrison.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1680 kb)
10021_2019_362_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (46 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 45 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentWashington State University, VancouverVancouverUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science CenterFlagstaffUSA

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