The importance of drawdown and sediment removal for the restoration of the eutrophied shallow Lake Kraenepoel (Belgium)

J. Van Wichelen, S. Declerck, K. Muylaert, I. Hoste, V. Geenens, J. Vandekerkhove, E. Michels, N. De Pauw, Michael B Hoffmann, Luc De Meester, W. Vyverman

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Lake Kraenepoel (Belgium) is a shallow lake (22 ha), divided in two basins since 1957 by a shallow dike. The lake was used for fish farming until World War II and was drawn down about every 5 years to harvest fish. Despite its dense historical carp population, it had clear water and a rich Littorelletea vegetation. During the course of the 20th century, the lake became eutrophic and the Littorelletea vegetation degraded. The northern basin, which was still drawn down about every decade after 1957, retained its clear water and had a dense submerged macrophyte vegetation. The southern basin, which was never drawn down after 1957 and which received direct surface water inputs, had become a turbid shallow lake with phytoplankton blooms in summer. In 2000, efforts were taken to restore the lake: the entire lake was drawn down, the fish community was biomanipulated, nutrient-rich surface water inputs were diverted from the southern basin and sediments were removed (only in the northern basin). Fish biomanipulation and sediment removal were successful in the northern basin, as nutrient levels declined and the Littorelletea vegetation recovered. In the southern basin, sediment analyses indicated that drawdown resulted in sediments with a lower water and organic matter content and water column turbidity decreased after the drawdown. But pH in the southern basin declined to <4, probably because sulphides in the sediment were oxidized during drawdown and sediment desiccation. In contrast, desiccated sediments were removed from the northern basin and pH did not decline below 6 after restoration. In spite of the still high dissolved nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton biomass declined significantly in the southern basin, probably due to acidification. However, no Littorelletea species colonised the lake bottom in the southern basin. Thus, lake drawdown may be a useful management technique to promote clear water conditions in shallow lakes. However, acidification due to sulphide oxidation may be an undesirable outcome and should be considered in drawdown and sediment desiccation manipulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • shallow lake restoration drawdown macrophyte Littorelletea sediment softwater lakes acidification vegetation netherlands aluminum impact communities phosphorus wisconsin plankton Marine & Freshwater Biology


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