Bear Lake Watershed Assessment


Bear Lake in Muskegon County, MI is a small, eutrophic lake located within the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC). Because of elevated total phosphorus (TP) concentrations and excess algal growth, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was issued for Bear Lake in 2008. Although the TMDL called for a 50% reduction in external load and a 79% reduction in internal load (to attain a target total phosphorus [TP] concentration of 30 μg/L in Bear Lake), additional research revealed that the TMDL’s internal loading estimate in Bear Lake was too high (Steinman and Ogdahl 2015). As a consequence, more effort was placed on external load reduction through the restoration of former celery fields to a flow-through marsh (Steinman and Ogdahl 2016). The restoration project has resulted in a significant decline in TP concentrations in the formerly flooded celery ponds (Hassett and Steinman 2022), although its impact to downstream Bear Lake may take time to be detected.

Phosphorus load reduction is needed in Bear Lake not only to meet water quality standards, but also to remove the eutrophication and undesirable algae beneficial use impairment (BUI) for Bear Lake and ultimately delist the Muskegon Lake AOC. The Bear Lake - Lake Board has contracted with GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute to monitor water quality conditions in Bear Lake since 2022.


Al Steinman, Project Manager: [email protected]
Mike Hassett, Lead Technician: [email protected]

Page last modified March 20, 2024