, Volume 176, Issue 1, pp 29–38 | Cite as

The effect of low water levels on the water quality of Lake Biwa

  • Akira Kurata
Habitat changes


Because of a lack of precipitation, water levels in Lake Biwa, Japan, were extremely low between the beginning of September 1984 and the end of February 1985. Approximately 13 million people depend upon the lake as a source of drinking water and for industrial use, and the severe water shortage became a serious concern for downstream communities. Also, there was concern that deterioration of water quality caused by rotting macrophytes and the release of nutrients from vegetation and nearshore sediments might create additional problems.

In this paper, the release of nutrients from vegetation and sediments is examined under conditions which simulate both calm and turbulent water motions in the nearshore, and the magnitude of nutrient loadings are estimated in relation to the specific effects of low lake level.

Sample stations were established around the south shore of Lake Biwa. Sampling was undertaken at the time of low water and during the rising water levels. Sediment samples were particle sized into 7 groups (<2000 µm). Other measured values ranged as follows: BOD (0.5–1.3), COD (1.2–3.5), TP (0.019–0.037), SRP (0.013–0.030), SOP (0.005–0.007), TN (0.45–0.90), NO2-N (0.004–0.007), NO3-N (0.04–0.08) and NH4-N (0.026–0.053), all as mgL-1. The sample data suggest that, overall, there was little impact on lake water quality as a result of low water levels. However, remedial actions may have had an important and beneficial impact on nearshore water quality in the southern basin of Lake Biwa.

Key words

nutrient release sediments macrophytes water levels water quality Lake Biwa 


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  1. Kira, T. and A. Kurata, 1984, Data Book of World Lakes: A Compilation of Physiographic and Socio-Economic Data with Emphasis on Eutrophication: Otsu, Shiga Conference '84 on Conservation and Management of World Lake Environment, 513 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akira Kurata
    • 1
  1. 1.Lake Biwa Research InstituteShigaUchide-Hama, OtsuJapan

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