At 3,067 acres in size, Detroit Lake is the largest lake within the Pelican River Watershed District. On the north side of the lake lies its namesake, the City of Detroit Lakes. The entirety of the lake lies within the municipal boundaries of the City. As typical with urban area lakes, its shoreline is extensively developed with residential homes, commercial businesses and some industrial buildings. The Lake is divided in to two distinct parts, known locally as monitored as two separate waterbodies, called “Big” Detroit and “Little” Detroit. The two are separated by a shallow gravel bar with an area to the north which had been dredged to provide easy passage for watercraft. The two waterbodies typically have consistently different water clarity and nutrient levels. Historically, “Little” Detroit has consistently been observed to have better water quality results than the larger and deeper “Big” Detroit.
The water quality results that were observed for Little Detroit was slightly above average, Big Detroit was not sampled in 2016. Water clarity results were nearly 1-foot better than average (7% increase) while total phosphorous levels were slightly lower than average (8% increase). The strong relationship between the total phosphorous level and the water clarity can be seen below.
It was also confirmed in 2016 that Zebra Mussels were present in Detroit Lake. The extend of the spread is still unknown as well as the potential effect of water quality; however, it is expected that there will be increase in water clarity, leading to increased plant growth to a greater depth.