Geo-Engineering in Lakes: A Crisis of Confidence?

B.M. Spears, S.C. Maberly, G. Pan, E. Mackay, M.F.L.L.W. Lurling

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The effective management of lakes suffering from eutrophication is confounded by a mosaic of interactions and feedbacks that are difficult to manipulate. For example, in lake processes can delay the relinquishment of legacy phosphorus (P) manifested within bed sediments for decades, even after effective catchment management. This recovery time is often deemed unacceptable and researchers have explored many in-lake management measures designed to “speed-up” recovery. The manipulation of biogeochemical processes (commonly targeting P) using materials to achieve a desired chemical and/or ecological response has been termed geo-engineering in lakes, and is becoming a commonly considered eutrophication management tool (Figure 1). Although this approach has been employed for many years it remains contentious largely due to variable results reported in the literature. This uncertainty risks ineffective management based on poorly designed or inappropriate applications. To address this, it is important that current levels of confidence in the approach be effectively communicated and that methods of increasing confidence are clearly demonstrated. We draw here on experiences of researchers and water managers at a global scale to demonstrate recent advances and consensus on recommendations (numbered below) for best practice. This information, although vital to underpinning successful management, has not been available in the peer reviewed literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9977-9979
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • phosphorus
  • sediment
  • clay

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