Total Suspended Solids

Suspended solids in water include a variety of things, from sediments and silt to decaying organic matter. This metric is used as an indicator of water clarity. Generally speaking, clearer water is cleaner water. In Lake Erie, some cloudiness in the water is considered normal because of persistent, non-toxic algae that provides food for fishes and invertebrates.

How is it scored?

Total suspended solids (TSS) was used as an indicator in the watershed analysis. Year-round data from 2018 were analyzed. For each TSS sample, the measurement was compared to the threshold on a pass/fail basis. Site scores were averaged into an overall region total suspended solids score.

The total suspended solids threshold used for the western Lake Erie basin analysis was the Maumee Watershed Action Plan (2014) threshold 25 mg/L.

Surf in Lake Erie is clouded by suspended solids in the water. Photo by Janet Moore-Coll via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND