Study finds changing dissolved organic carbon in Maine lakes key to maintaining drinking water quality | 8/8/2018 | Staff
Monitoring concentrations of dissolved organic carbon in Maine lakes before and after severe rainstorms could inform management strategies to help ensure consistent, high-quality drinking water, according to University of Maine researchers.

In their study, working with local drinking water districts, Kate Warner and Jasmine Saros, researchers in UMaine's Climate Change Institute and the School of Biology and Ecology, found that increasingly frequent and extreme rain events can contribute to short-term abrupt changes in the quantity and quality of lakes' dissolved organic carbon, which is derived from leaves, pine needles and other terrestrial debris in watershed runoff.

Goal - Effect - Rainstorms - Freshwater - Ecosystems

The goal was to better understand the effect of severe rainstorms on freshwater ecosystems and, in particular, how dissolved organic carbon is changing in Maine drinking water lakes.

By sampling dissolved organic carbon in six Maine lakes before and after five severe rainstorms, the researchers found three response patterns. Some lakes had an initial spike in dissolved organic carbon that returned to prestorm levels within days. The largest lakes sustained no changes in the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon.

Lakes - Carbon - Levels - Response - Water

In other lakes, dissolved organic carbon levels increased and remained high. Such a sustained response is particularly important for water districts, which might have to modify treatment strategies following extreme storms.

"Dissolved organic carbon is one of the most important substances in lake ecosystems—particularly drinking water lakes—and yet it's not talked about that often," says Saros, professor...
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