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A variety of models have been developed for estimating chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration in turbid and productive waters. All are based on optical information in a few spectral bands in the red and near-infra-red regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength locations in the models used were meticulously tuned to provide the highest sensitivity to the presence of Chl-a and minimal sensitivity to other constituents in water. But the caveat in these models is the need for recurrent parameterization and calibration due to changes in the biophysical characteristics of water based on the location and/or time of the year. In this study we tested the performance of NIR-red models in estimating Chl-a concentrations in an environment with a range of Chl-a concentrations that is typical for coastal and mesotrophic inland waters. The models with the same spectral bands as MERIS, calibrated for small lakes in the Midwest U.S., were used to estimate Chla concentration in the subtropical Lake Kinneret (Israel), where Chl-a concentrations ranged from 4 to 21 mgm-3 during four field campaigns. A two-band model without reparameterization was able to estimate Chl-a concentration with a root mean square error less than 1.5 mgm-3. Our work thus indicates the potential of the model to be reliably applied without further need of parameterization and calibration based on geographical and/or seasonal regimes.