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Hydrologic Data for Deep Creek Lake and Selected Tributaries, Garrett County, Maryland, 2007-08

Open-File Report 2010-1092

Revised as of July 15, 2010    By: William S.L. Banks, William J. Davies, Allen C. Gellis, Andrew E. LaMotte, Wendy S. McPherson, and Daniel J. Soeder


Recent and ongoing efforts to develop the land in the area around Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County, Maryland, are expected to change the volume of sediment moving toward and into the lake, as well as impact the water quality of the lake and its many tributaries. With increased development, there is an associated increased demand for groundwater and surface-water withdrawals, as well as boat access. Proposed dredging of the lake bottom to improve boat access has raised concerns about the adverse environmental effects such activities would have on the lake. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) entered into a cooperative study during 2007 and 2008 to address these issues.

This study was designed to address several objectives to support MDDNR’s management strategy for Deep Creek Lake. The objectives of this study were to:

Summary of Activities

Data were collected in Deep Creek Lake and in selected tributaries from September 2007 through September 2008. The methods of investigation are presented here and all data have been archived according to USGS policy for future use. The material presented in this report is intended to provide resource managers and policy makers with a broad understanding of the bathymetry, surface water, sedimentation rates, groundwater, and water use in the study area. The report is structured so that the reader can access each topic separately using any hypertext markup (HTML) language reader.

In order to establish a base-line water-depth map of Deep Creek Lake, a bathymetric survey of the lake bottom was conducted in 2007. The data collected were used to generate a bathymetric map depicting depth to the lake bottom from a full pool elevation of 2,462 feet (National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929). Data were collected along about 90 linear miles across the lake using a fathometer and a differentially corrected global positioning system.

As part of a long-term monitoring plan for all surface-water inputs to the lake, streamflow data were collected continuously at two stations constructed on Poland Run and Cherry Creek. The sites were selected to represent areas of the watershed under active development and areas that are relatively stable with respect to development. Twelve months of discharge data are provided for both streams. In addition, five water-quality parameters were collected continuously at the Poland Run station including pH, specific conductance, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Water samples collected at Poland Run were analyzed for sediment concentration, and the results of this analysis were used to estimate the annual sediment load into Deep Creek Lake from Poland Run.

To determine sedimentation rates, cores of lake-bottom sediments were collected at 23 locations. Five of the cores were analyzed using a radiometric-dating method, allowing average rates of sedimentation to be estimated for the time periods 1925 to 2008, 1925 to 1963, and 1963 to 2008. Particle-size data from seven cores collected at locations throughout the study area were analyzed to provide information on the amount of fine material in lake-bed sediments.

Groundwater levels were monitored continuously in four wells and weekly in nine additional wells during October, November, and December of 2008. Water levels were compared to recorded lake levels and precipitation during the same period to determine the effect of lake-level drawdown and recovery on the adjacent aquifer systems.

Water use in the Deep Creek Lake watershed was estimated using records of permitted water use, reported withdrawals, and well-construction-permit records. A summary of use by major consumer, including recent trends, is presented.

Suggestions for Future Monitoring

Future monitoring activities in support of MDDNR’s mission at Deep Creek Lake could include continued monitoring of sediment loads and other water-quality parameters of interest as prioritized by the Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board. The Policy and Review Board advises the Secretary of Natural Resources of the State of Maryland on matters relating to Deep Creek Lake. These activities could be coordinated with other, ongoing monitoring activities in the area to support the long-term management goals of the MDDNR. Continued flow and water-quality monitoring at Poland Run would be consistent with management goals of the MDDNR. In addition, synoptic monitoring at major tributaries around the lake would allow the construction of partial-record hydrographs that could help estimate flow throughout the watershed to aid in quantifying the water budget and setting long-term monitoring priorities.

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Although this report is in the public domain, permission must be secured from the individual copyright owners to reproduce any copyrighted materials contained within this report.

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