Mogan and Eymir Lakes are two shallow lakes, interconnected hydrologically in the close vicinity of Ankara, Turkey. A total of 245 km 2 of the total 971.4 km(2) watershed is under environmental protection status as "Golbasi Specially Protected Area". Potential impacts from extensive agriculture, recreation, incomplete infrastructure and other human activities, such as residential settlements, are discussed with reference to previous and more recent pollution monitoring. Six monitoring stations enabling follow-up of previous work were selected in this study. These were on die creeks feeding the lake systems. Generally, summer months showed heavier pollution loads, with Eymir Lake concentrating the pollutants due to flow from Mogan Lake. When compared with the 1995 study; COD, total-P, Kjeldahl-N in the six stations were close or slightly decreased in the present study. Suspended solids significantly decreased; possibly due to erosion control measures and decreased domestic wastewater. The improvement in the pollution state of the lakes is attributed to the construction of a sewage system going around Mogan Lake and collecting wastewater discharges and restrictions to urban settlement development around the lakes brought by the 1/25000 land use plan controlling further impact from residential developments within the protected area boundaries. The study, while addressing water quality and interactions due to human activities in shallow lakes, also discusses problems associated with human impacts in protected areas with the aim of presenting a complicated case study. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.