Natural lakes in South Korea are limited in number and generally quite small. As a result, reservoirs and regulated rivers are the major sources of freshwater for society. About 18 000 reservoirs have been constructed in South Korea, and they are particularly important for domestic water supply. Thirteen of the major reservoirs were surveyed in this general assessment of the trophic state of South Korean reservoirs. Ten reservoirs were from the upper or middle reaches of rivers (including eight of the ten largest reservoirs in Korea), and three were estuarine reservoirs. Reservoirs in the mountainous district of South Korea were usually mesotrophic, whereas the estuarine reservoirs were highly eutrophic. Because total nitrogen to total phosphorus ratios were always between 18 and 163, phosphorus was probably more limiting than nitrogen for algal growth. However, hydraulic residence time and light penetration may be limiting in the nutrient-enriched downstream reservoirs. In winter, algal density was lowest in deep reservoirs, perhaps due to deep mixing. During the same season, algal density was high in shallow reservoirs, perhaps due to a favorable hydraulic residence time. Factors contributing to the observed eutrophication patterns, including nutrient runoff from agriculture, animal farms, fish aquaculture, and urban areas, are discussed. According to the national budget of phosphorus, fertilizer and livestock manure are major source of phosphorus, contributing 133 400 and 73 700 tons of phosphorus per year, respectively, while human excretion discharges 30 000 tons P year−1. Reduction of the application of fertilizer, proper treatment of manure, and conservation of topsoil may be the most practical and effective measures to prevent further lake eutrophication.
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