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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Winter 2015

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Matthews, Robin A., 1952-

Second Advisor

Bodensteiner, Leo R., 1957-

Third Advisor

Sofield, Ruth M.


Long term monitoring of Lake Whatcom, a large monomictic lake located near Bellingham, Washington, has indicated a decrease in water quality that resulted in excessive algae growth associated with increased phosphorus inputs. Recently, a total maximum daily load was issued to limit phosphorus inputs into the lake, with emphasis on storm water mitigation. Not all phosphorus in storm water can be used by algae; the portion that can be used is described as bioavailable, and includes both inorganic and organic forms of phosphorus. My research focused on quantifying the amount of phosphorus made available by alkaline phosphatase, an algal and bacterial enzyme that can release some of the phosphorus associated with organic and inorganic particulates. Storm water samples were collected from tributaries of Lake Whatcom and analyzed to determine the total phosphorus concentrations. The alkaline phosphatase bioavailable phosphorus concentration was determined using dual culture diffusion apparatuses, with phosphorus-starved Selenastrum capricornutum algal cultures that were separated from the storm water phosphorus source by an enzyme-permeable membrane. The total phosphorus concentrations in the storm water were reduced by 37 to 92% (median = 78%), which suggests that storm water entering Lake Whatcom contains a substantial amount of bioavailable phosphorus. Because of this, management goals should assume that all storm water entering the lake from these tributaries has an equal ability to sustain algal growth. Chlorophyll was not correlated with phosphorus reductions, suggesting that in these short-term tests, the algal cellular energy may have been focused on enzyme production to facilitate phosphorus uptake.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Runoff--Washington (State)--Whatcom, Lake; Water--Phosphorus content--Washington (State)--Whatcom, Lake; Water quality management--Washington (State)--Whatcom, Lake; Algae--Control--Washington (State)--Whatcom, Lake

Geographic Coverage

Whatcom, Lake (Wash.)




masters theses




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