Development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for acid-impaired lakes in the Adirondack region of New York

Habibollah Fakhraei, Charles T. Driscoll, Pranesh Selvendiran, Joseph V. DePinto, Jay Bloomfield, Scott Quinn, H. Chandler Rowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Acidic deposition has impaired acid-sensitive surface waters in the Adirondack region of New York by decreasing pH and acid neutralizing capacity (ANC). In spite of air quality programs over past decades, 128 lakes in the Adirondacks were classified as "impaired" under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act in 2010 due to elevated acidity. The biogeochemical model, PnET-BGC, was used to relate decreases in atmospheric sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition to changes in lake water chemistry. The model was calibrated and confirmed using observed soil and lake water chemistry data and then was applied to calculate the maximum atmospheric deposition that the impaired lakes can receive while still achieving ANC targets. Two targets of ANC were used to characterize the recovery of acid-impaired lakes: 11 and 20μeqL-1. Of the 128 acid-impaired lakes, 97 currently have ANC values below the target value of 20μeqL-1 and 83 are below 11μeqL-1. This study indicates that a moderate control scenario (i.e., 60% decrease from the current atmospheric S load) is projected to recover the ANC of lakes at a mean rate of 0.18 and 0.05μeqL-1yr-1 during the periods 2022-2050 and 2050-2200, respectively. The total maximum daily load (TMDL) of acidity corresponding to this moderate control scenario was estimated to be 7.9meqSm-2yr-1 which includes a 10% margin of safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-287
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2014


  • Acid-impaired lakes
  • Acidification
  • Adirondack Mountains
  • Critical Loads
  • PnET-BGC
  • Total maximum daily load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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