Honghu Lake is the largest lake-type wetland in Hubei Province, China. It is also one of the largest shallow lakes in the Yangtze River Economic Zone, a key area in the relatively more developed southeast of China. However, the water quality has seen a deterioration tendency in recent decades, mostly owing to unreasonable human activities such as lake enclosure aquaculture following rapid social and economic development. Based on the water quality index (WQI) method, the water quality of Honghu Lake, by the vast amount of data collected from five observation sites monitored over ten years, was analyzed and evaluated. The results show that: (i) the water quality of Honghu Lake is in the ‘General’ grade as a whole with a WQI value of 43.41 ± 6.66; (ii) the water quality has been improving in the recent two years, reversing its decade-long deterioration; (iii) the water quality sampled at the Lantian site is the worst while that of the Guandun site is the best; (iv) the concentration of Pb and Cd are the key parameters to determine the water quality of Honghu Lake. Therefore, it can be concluded that more attention should be paid to investigate heavy metals in Honghu Lake in the future.

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