The Impact of Phosphate Regulations on the Total Phosphorus Levels in The Lake Lanier Watershed from 1987 to 2020


Concern due to increasing phosphorus levels in lakes and their watersheds has been growing since the 1960s. There is a long history of water regulations regarding household detergents that attempt to reduce unnatural sources of phosphorus running off into lakes. Total phosphorus analysis has been performed by the University of North Georgia Water Lab which has maintained a continuous baseline water quality-monitoring program of the Lake Lanier Watershed since 1987 for The Upper Chattahoochee Basin Group (and its predecessors). Data from the University of North Georgia Water Lab demonstrates a change in total phosphorus levels in the Lake Lanier Watershed with data that starts in 1987 and ends in 2020. Due to the little research that has been done regarding the impact of household detergent phosphate bans on southern watersheds, this project seeks to use the Water Lab’s longitudinal data in conjunction with environmental policy review and statistical analysis to assess the efficacy of household detergent phosphate bans.


The authors wish to acknowledge the guidance and support of Ms. Stacie James, Program Coordinator, of the University of North Georgia’s Environmental Leadership Center. We also thank the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and the College of Science and Math for their support. We thank Jennifer McCollum, Michael Pekala for their involement of data analysis. We thank the UNG Water Lab for their continuous data collection over the past 33 years.

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