The uptake of phosphate by benthic communities, dominated by living algae, previously exposed to different levels of external nutrient loading, exhibited first-order kinetics with respect to the intracellular P-deficit. This deficit is the difference between the maximum and the actual intracellular P-concentration. The maximum storage capacity of P per unit of dry weight was positively correlated to the level of external nutrient loading, whereas the phosphate uptake rate constant was negatively correlated. The observed internal P concentrations in the benthic layer of test ditches over a period of two and a half years, indicated a slight decrease towards a minimum value in a ditch with a low external P-input. In a medium loaded ditch the internal P-concentration did not change significantly. In a high loaded ditch increasing internal P-concentrations over time were observed, towards P-saturation of the benthic community.