In recent years, samples have been
collected from five locations in
Houghton Lake to evaluate baseline
water quality conditions. When evaluating
water quality, the nutrient "phosphorus" is
of primary concern in that phosphorus is
the nutrient that most often stimulates
aquatic plant growth and leads to a
number of problems collectively known as
eutrophication. The median phosphorus
concentration measured to date in
Houghton Lake is just above the eutrophic concentration of 20 parts per billion.
During ice-free periods, Houghton Lake is well mixed and temperatures in the lake are nearly uniform top to bottom. Oxygen is mixed throughout the water column and fish and other aquatic organisms are able to inhabit the entire water column. Algae growth in the open waters of the lake is minimal, however, transparency measurements are generally less than 10 feet. The low transparency is likely due to the mixing of the water column that suspends sediments, and the presence of natural tannins draining from area wetlands that impart a brownish color to the lake.
Oligotrophic lakes are generally deep
and clear with little aquatic plant
growth. These lakes maintain sufficient
dissolved oxygen in the cool, deep bottom
waters during late summer to support
cold water fish such as trout and whitefish.
Lakes that fall between the two
extremes of oligotrophic and eutrophic
are called Mesotrophic lakes.
Eutrophic lakes have poor clarity, and
support abundant aquatic plant growth.
In deep eutrophic lakes, the cool bottom
waters usually contain little or no
dissolved oxygen. Therefore, these lakes
can only support warm water fish such
as bass and pike.
Recent sampling indicates that Houghton
Lake’s water quality is between mesotrophic