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Sediment Accumulation and Water Volume in Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore County, Maryland

By William S. L. Banks and Andrew E. LaMotte

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Baltimore City and its metropolitan area are supplied with water from three reservoirs, Liberty Reservoir, Prettyboy Reservoir, and Loch Raven Reservoir. Prettyboy and Loch Raven Reservoirs are located on the Gunpowder Falls. The many uses of the reservoir system necessitate coordination and communication among resource managers. The 1996 Amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act require States to complete source-water assessments for public drinking-water supplies. As part of an ongoing effort to provide safe drinking water and as a direct result of these laws, the City of Baltimore and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), in cooperation with other State and local agencies, are studying the Gunpowder Falls Basin and its role as a source of water supply to the Baltimore area. As a part of this study, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS), with funding provided by the City of Baltimore and MDE, is examining sediment accumulation in Loch Raven Reservoir.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works periodically determines the amount of water that can be stored in its reservoirs. To make this determination, field crews measure the water depth along predetermined transects or ranges. These transects provide consistent locations where water depth, or bathymetric, measurements can be made. Range surveys are repeated to provide a record of the change in storage capacity due to sediment accumulation over time. Previous bathymetric surveys of Loch Raven Reservoir were performed in 1943, 1961, 1972, and 1985. Errors in data-collection and analysis methods have been assessed and documented (Baltimore City Department of Public Works, 1989). Few comparisons can be made among survey results because of changing data-collection techniques and analysis methods.

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