A limnological survey was conducted of Little Black Lake and its tributaries during summer 2007 by researchers at the Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University. Water quality, sediment composition, and phytoplankton, macrophyte, and fish abundance and composition were analyzed. In general, the water quality of both the inflows to, and Little Black Lake itself, was good. Nutrient concentrations occasionally exceeded existing guidelines, but no systemic problems were detected. Phosphorus concentrations did increase during stormflow conditions, but this is typical and concentrations were not considered excessive. One site in the lake had very high sediment phosphorus concentrations. Because our water quality results are based on a 1-time sampling, we cannot address if concentrations vary across seasons or if these concentrations are representative of typical conditions in Little Black Lake.

Macrophyte growth was extensive throughout most parts of the lake, but the plant composition was generally indicative of good water quality conditions. The clear water column and adequate concentrations of nutrients in the sediment provide excellent conditions for macrophyte growth in Little Black Lake. This may cause water quality problems in future years, however, as continual accumulation of organic matter may result in muck sediments and reduced oxygen levels. Phytoplankton abundance was low relative to other lakes in the region, and composition was indicative of good water quality. Little Black Lake has a healthy fish community, dominated by bluegill and pumpkinseed, with no invasive species being observed. The healthy fish community is likely a function of good habitat and good water quality.

Despite the current healthy conditions, there are some indications the lake is starting to experience ecological pressures. As a consequence, it is important that the City and lakefront homeowners become active stewards of the lake and its watershed to maintain the lake’s condition. A number of recommendations are provided in this report, including the development of a watershed management plan and the implementation of best management practices to limit nonpoint source loading to Little Black Lake.


Ecosystem Health, Water Quality -- Measurement, Little Black Lake, City of Norton Shores, Michigan, Annis Water Resources Institute


Environmental Monitoring | Natural Resources and Conservation