Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5237

Prepared in cooperation with the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Illinois State Geological Survey

Hydrology, Water Quality, and Causes of Changes in Vegetation in the Vicinity of the Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, Lake County, Illinois, May 2007–August 2008

By Robert T. Kay, James J. Miner, Debbie A. Maurer, and Charles W. Knight


Thumbnail of front cover

Agriculture and urbanization have altered the hydrology and water quality of the coastal wetland complex along the shore of Lake Michigan at the Spring Bluff Nature Preserve and Illinois Beach State Park in northeastern Lake County, Ill., and the adjacent Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area in southeastern Wisconsin. Culverts, roads, ditches, and berms installed within the wetland complex have altered the natural directions of surface-water flow and likely have increased the natural hydroperiod in the Spring Bluff Nature Preserve and decreased it in the northern part of the Illinois Beach State Park. Relative to presettlement conditions, surface-water runoff into the wetlands likely is greater in quantity and higher in concentrations of several constituents, including chloride, nitrate, phosphorous, and suspended sediment. These constituent concentrations are affected by a variety of factors, including the amount of agricultural and urban land use in the watersheds. Hydrologic, chemical, and biologic processes within the wetland communities reduce the concentrations of these constituents in surface water before the water discharges to Lake Michigan by as much as 75 percent for chloride, 85 percent for nitrate, 66 percent for phosphorous, and more than an order of magnitude for suspended sediment. However, concentrations of phosphorous and suspended sediment in surface water increased within parts of the wetland complex. Given these changes, the floristic quality of these wetlands has been altered from the historic condition. Specifically, Typha spp. and Phragmites australis occur in greater numbers and over a larger area than in the past. The spread of Typha spp. and Phragmites australis appears to be enhanced by anthropogenic alterations within the wetland complex, such as increased water levels and duration of inundation and, possibly, increases in the total concentration of dissolved constituents in water.

Posted March 30, 2010

For additional information contact:
Director, Illinois Water
   Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Suite 100
1201 W. University Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Kay, R.T, Miner J.J., Maurer, D.A., and Knight, C.W., 2010, Hydrology, water quality, and causes of changes in vegetation in the vicinity of the Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, Lake County, Illinois, May 2007–August 2008: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5237, 73 p.




Surface-Water Hydrology

Groundwater Hydrology

Surface-Water Quality

Relation of Hydrology and Water Quality to Invasive Species

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited


Appendix 1.  Water-level measurements in the vicinity of Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, Lake County, Illinois

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Thursday, 10-Jan-2013 19:44:37 EST