Water Quality Improvement Project
Ballinger Lake Area:
Total Phosphorus


Lake Ballinger is in the cities of Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds, on the King County – Snohomish County border in Washington State. The lake is a monomictic lake, which means the water mixes throughout the winter and early spring. The lake is productive and is classified as a eutrophic lake. The major surface inlet to the lake is Hall Creek, with stormwater outlets contributing the remaining inflow to the lake. The single outlet is McAleer Creek, which drains to Lake Washington.

Land use around the lake is dominated by single family dwellings and two golf courses are on the north and east ends of the lake. The lake receives considerable stormwater runoff during rain events, primarily from the urban areas of Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and northern King County. Lake Ballinger is very popular for various recreational activities including fishing, swimming, boating and wind surfing.

Water quality issues

Lake Ballinger was listed on Washington State's 303(d) list for failing to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) human health criteria for total phosphorus.

Ballinger Lake photo, Washington State.  Photo courtesy of Stephen J. Brown, via Flickr.  

© Stephen J. Brown


Why this matters

Excessive nutrient inputs to lakes provide aquatic plant and algae dominance, making lakes unsuitable for recreation or viewing enjoyment. Phosphorus is one of the nutrients. When it is discharged into a waterbody, like a lake, it fuels the growth of algae.

Excessive algae growth reduces water clarity, increases oxygen demand in the bottom sediments severely impacting coldwater aquatic habitat, and can, depending on the dominant algae present, pose a human health risk.

Status of the project

A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study for Lake Ballinger was submitted by Ecology. EPA approved the TMDL in 1993. Data from monitoring done in 2005 show that Ballinger Lake met the phosphorus level goals specified in the TMDL.

Technical information

Ballinger Lake Total Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (Ecology publication)

Quality Assurance Project Plan: Lake Ballinger Total Maximum Daily Load Effectiveness Monitoring Study (Ecology publication)

Lake Ballinger Total Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load: Water Quality Attainment Monitoring Report (Ecology publication)

Related information

WRIA 8: Cedar-Sammamish Watershed Information (Environmental Assessment Program web site)


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Last updated May 2015
  Map for water resource inventory area (WRIA) 8, Washington


WRIA: #8 (Cedar-Sammamish)

Water-body Name:
Ballinger Lake

Total Phosphorus

# of TMDLs: 1

Approved by EPA

Contact Info:
Tricia Shoblom
Phone: 425-649-7288
Email: Tricia.Shoblom@ecy.wa.gov

Northwest Region
Department of Ecology
3190 160th Ave. SE
Bellevue, WA 98008-5452