NEW! Groundwater Recharge and Completion of the Water Budget Model

The completion of the water budget model (WBM) is in response to Goal One and Goal Twelve of the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan (WMP). The water budget model (WBM) will help predict water levels based on measured and estimated inflows, which would in turn will improve the decision process for the timing and volume of Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan water releases. Currently, the model created by the Foundation relies on a bookkeeping scheme that keeps track of the required releases and the water remaining in the pool. It is advantageous because it is updated daily, and a daily prediction is made of the number of days remaining until the lower rule band is reached. The first step in the journey to a completed water budget model was the installation by USGS and financed by the Foundation of a recording water level and water temperature gauge near Meadow Mountain Run. The output from this gauge as well as lake water temperature is recorded every fifteen minutes on a data retrievable website. The gauge serves as a backup to the gauge that the power plant operator maintains as a part of the water appropriation permit. The power plant data record is unavailable on the internet except for daily levels and other data. The Foundation paid $15,310 to USGS for this installation. The gauge data will show how the water that comes into the lake affects the water levels when combined with rainfall and discharge records. Two more continuously recording precipitation gauges in the watershed to augment the precipitation gauge at North Glade Run and discharge records available in real-time from the power plant will afford the data to construct a groundwater recharge model for the lake basin. Using the same bookkeeping technique, the recharge model will extend the predictable lake levels from days to months. We have added precipitation recording capability to the existing Hoyes Run USGS flow gauge on the Youghiogheny River and at the existing USGS flow gauge at Cherry Creek. The recorded precipitation data added to the longer precipitation record from the North Glade Run precipitation gauge will afford better precipitation records for the watershed. There are long term USGS precipitation records available from the gauge at Oakland on the Youghiogheny River to inspect the correlation. USGS has installed a river flow gauge upstream of the Deep Creek nexus with the Youghiogheny River. We refer to this gauge as the Top Yough Gauge. The additional gauge will provide flow data in conjunction with the Hoyes Run gauge. Factoring in the travel time between the gauges, it will be possible to infer the amount of water leaving the watershed. The Property Owners Association donated the capital cost of $21,750 and we have a donation of $17,970 for annual operation and maintenance for the gauge on the river upstream of where Deep Creek joins the Youghiogheny. The completed Water Budget Model will account for the water coming into the lake; the lake level data will show how the lake reacts to the rainfall and how the water coming out of the watershed into the river relates: Water In – Water Out = Change in water level. COMPLETED AND CONTEMPLATED JOINT PROJECTS WITH USGS INCLUDE
  Gauge build and Equipment Purchase Annual Operation and Maintenance Foundation Contribution USGS Match Total Cost
Recording Lake Water Temperature Gauge at State Park $1,200  $3,050  $4,250  $0  $4,250 
Recording Lake Water Level Gauge at State Park $4,800  $6,260  $11,060  $0  $11,060 
Co-located Precipitation Gauge at Hoyes Run $8,155  $4,575  $12,730  $0  $12,730 
Co-located Precipitation Gauge at Cherry Creek $8,155  $4,575  $8,155   $0 $12,730 
Stream Gauge upstream of Brookfield Power in Youghiogheny River $21,750  $18,600  $39,660  $0  $40,350 
The Deep Creek Lake Manager has agreed to pay for the operation and maintenance costs associated with the new Cherry Creek recording precipitation gauge at Cherry Creek and the water temperature gauge. Funds will be required from our Donors to have USGS operate and maintain all these gauges to the tune of $28,735 every year. The WBM completion hinges on the ability to evaluate the simple relationship of Water In minus Water Out equals Change in Water Level…  Easy to say, but gathering the input data will require a precipitation record over the lake recharge area, discharges from Deep Creek and the power plant into the river, and a record of water levels, all retrievable from a USGS digital database. A recent bathymetric survey of Deep Creek Lake by DNR confirmed the Stage-Storage relationship determined when the lake was built by Youghiogheny Hydro-Electric Company in the 1920s. One of the reasons for partnering with USGS is that they record the data they collect, which is readily available in real-time on the internet.  Our long-term goal is to use the water budget model as a basis for a water use management plan. Once the recharge model is incorporated, a predictive capability will afford the Water Appropriation Permit holder under the direction of the Maryland Department of the Environment the ability to equitably allocate the water that comes into Deep Creek Lake. The current appropriation permit requires that the operator use a predictive model to control operation. While the Deep Creek watershed has been blessed with abundant rainfall in recent years, a dry summer will happen. A water level management plan containing provisions for equitable water allocation when and if a shortage occurs will avoid contention between the stakeholders for the resource. A robust water budget model will afford the predictive ability needed to plan for times of low precipitation. For example, Lake Management can inform the lake users that water levels around docks will be lower than normal. The whitewater rafting community can accommodate in advance their release schedules appropriately to the available supply. Fisheries can tailor the temperature enhancement releases to fit the available supply. The power plant will be able to plan how much power it can produce and when. The completed Water Budget Model will make it possible to manage how the lake waters are used to equitably benefit all the stakeholders.
More About

Recharge Report 3 April 2024

Data for Deep Creek Lake was extracted from the USGS websites for Deep Creek Lake levels, precipitation for North Glade Run, Cherry Creek, and Hoyes Run, and the flow in the Youghiogheny River at Hoyes Run.
The data was plotted using Excel and AutoCAD to draft all the parameters in the same drawing. When plotted on letter-sized sheets and assembled into one, the results are over eight feet long… So, the days are plotted individually and included as .pdf documents so that they can be accessed readily.

During periods of rainfall, the precipitation is immediately added to the water level. This is evident on the 10th and 15th of March. The stream flow in the Youghiogheny River reacts later due to the travel time. Incidentally, twelve hours after the end of a rainfall event all of the runoff has occurred. The remainder soaks into the ground and is taken up by evaporation and entering the groundwater table.

The discharge from the power plant is inferred by subtracting the baseflow from the river discharge. From the area under the plant discharge record above, the estimated base flow per unit time indicates the plant discharge. The time of discharge signature is more discrete.

The total estimated power plant discharges for the period total 2,943 Ac-Ft (One acre of water, one foot deep). Using the storage-vs-lake level derived from prior work by the Maryland Geologic Survey and power plant records, the net change in lake storage minus the discharge is 1,662 Ac-Ft. In other words, 2,943 Ac-Ft through the power plant plus the 1,662 Ac-Ft increase in lake level for the period is 4,605 Ac-Ft.

An average of 1.13 inches of water fell on the watershed during that period. Assuming a drainage area of 40,000 acres for the lake and assuming that all of the water entered the lake during the period, 3,767 Ac-Ft would have been added. Arithmetic indicates that at least a thousand acre-feet of more water came into the lake than went out. Note that the lake level on the 22nd was about 0.4 feet, or about 5 inches higher than at the beginning of the period, considering about one inch of rain on the watershed and close to three thousand acre-feet of power generation.

This brief analysis is similar to the work that our consultant CEC will perform over a much longer period of time to measure the influence of groundwater recharge and incorporate it into the completed water budget model.
Respectfully submitted,
Morgan C. France, PE(ret)

Aquatic Invasive Species Legislation

Aquatic Invasive Species Legislation

Legislation is needed to address the lack of enforceable regulations regarding the launch and operation of boats that have been exposed to aquatic invasive species (AIS). The Policy Review Board* has formed a committee managed by Eric Null and Bob Browning. The Assistant States Attorney assigned to Deep Creek Lake has agreed to help craft the legislation. At this time the costs to the Foundation are unknown. The project partially fulfills Goal 3 of the Watershed Management Plan.

*  The Policy Review Board (PRB) is a Maryland State Board which is charged with advising the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on matters relating to lake fees, budget and management. In addition, the PRB and DNR were mandated to issue a Deep Creek Lake Recreation and Land Use Plan by June 2001 that provides for the wise use, protection and management of the natural and recreational resources of Deep Creek Lake. More information about the PRB can be found at the website for the Department of Natural Resources.

Precipitation Gauge Array Completion

Precipitation Gauge Array Completion

The two new USGS precipitation gauges will augment the USGS recording gauge at North Glade Run and afford reasonably good precipitation records. An analysis of the lake levels USGS measures on our behalf compared to the precipitation will show the relationship of groundwater recharge to the precipitation record. The first precipitation gauge was added to the stream flow measurement at Hoyes Run near the power plant. The second was added to the stream flow gauge at Cherry Creek. The installation cost is $8,155 each, and the annual operation and maintenance cost is $4,575 each. The project partially fulfills Goal 12 of the Watershed Management Plan.

10-10 Shoreline Vegetation Project

10-10 Shoreline Vegetation Project

The goal of the 10 in 10 Project is to reforest the buffer strip along the Lake shore with at least 10% of woody vegetation in 10 years using native trees shrubs and ground covers.  A demonstration project in partnership with the Lake Management/DNR office at Deep Creek Lake State Park will be displayed along the 300 yard strip of waterfront to the right of the Launch Dock.  This display will serve as a prototype. The purpose for a vegetated barrier is not just to prevent erosion but also to protect the water quality and shore and stream habitat.

Visitors to this site will find a meandering path and signage that identifies suggested landscaping plants all designed to enhance lake views while creating a healthy shoreline.  Participation of property owners is voluntary. Other community partners include Property Owners Association (POA), various civic groups and Ashley Bechtel-Bodkins, one of our advisors and a Senior Agent at University of Maryland Extension Office in Garett County who will be involved with the planning.

DCWF does not have a cost estimate at this time.  The 10 in 10 Project partially fulfills Goal 6 of the Watershed Management Plan.  The Plan will be posted here upon completion.

Support for Dock Launch Stewards

Support for Dock Launch Stewards

In partnership with the Lake Manager and Garrett College, we purchased jackets and inspection equipment for the launch stewards stationed at the State Park Launch Ramp. We have committed $1,000 per year to support this effort. This project partially fulfills Goal 1 of the Watershed Management Plan.

Install and Maintain Water Levels & Temperature Gauges

Install and Maintain Water Levels & Temperature Gauges

The installation was completed in August 2020 at the cost of about $6,000, and an annual maintenance cost of about $9,000 since then. The United States Geologic Survey has installed and maintained the gauges and is paid for by the Foundation. The data from these gauges are available on our website and on the USGS website. These projects are in partial fulfillment of Goal 1 of the Watershed Management Plan.


The water level and temperature gauges require regular calibration and routine maintenance. The water level gauge initially encountered difficulty dealing with ice formation in the initial location. The gauge was quickly reinstalled with no problems getting measurements since.

The water level data on the USGS shows both elevations based on geodetic basis and on the lake basis. The lake basis assumes that the elevation of the overflow weir at the dam is at elevation 2462. The geodetic elevation is 1.82 feet higher than the lake elevation.

Eric Null, the Lake Manager, has noted the utility of continuous temperature monitoring for our Eutrophic lake: “There are three basic types of lakes, Dystrophic, Eutrophic, and Oligotrophic. Dystrophic lakes have no oxygen, while Eutrophic lakes have their greatest amounts of oxygen at the surface. Oxygen then decreases as you increase depth. Oligotrophic Lakes have evenly distributed oxygen. Oligotrophic lakes do not turn over seasonally, therefore, have a very low nutrient concentration (infertile). Eutrophic lakes turnover seasonally due to their stratification of oxygen, temperature, and nutrients.

This turnover is essential for life in a Eutrophic lake. Every spring as the temperature rises and warms the water’s surface to the temperature of the bottom of the lake (lakes can stay 40+ degrees on the bottom during winter), the wind mixes the surface with the deeper water,  the wind continues to mix the water until the top layer of water slides beneath the bottom layer. The bottom becomes the top and brings all of the nutrients that fell to the bottom (dead organic matter) to the surface of the lake where they can be processed by biological organisms. In fall, the same event happens in reverse. As the surface water cools, it becomes denser and pushes the warmer bottom water to the surface with all of the summer nutrients. These events cause cloudy water that can be tinted green. The cloudiness is nutrients and the green are phytoplankton, the beginning of the lake’s food chain.

These nutrients fuel life in the lake through the winter and the summer. Without the natural turnover phenomenon, a Eutrophic or Mesotrophic (a high-quality eutrophic lake) lake could not sustain life. Temperature is vital for fishing, especially during turnover. During turnover, the surface’s temperature, nutrient, and oxygen concentration change dramatically for a week or two, forcing fish to the bottom of a lake and suppressing their appetites. Also, temperature dictates
where certain fish species will be feeding in a lake. Temperature stratification of a lake in summer is the key factor to fishing success.

Water Wise Program – Rain Barrels

Water Wise Program – Rain Barrels

Deep Creek Watershed Foundation Rain Barrel Project

This program is consistent with Deep Creek Watershed Plan Goal 6: Prevent erosion and sedimentation to the greatest extent possible to protect water resources from increased sediment loading and associated water quality problems, and its Objective 3: Revise, streamline, and incentivize lake shoreline protection measures and permitting.

According to the Plan: The primary sources of sediment in the watershed, in no particular order, are:

  • Stormwater runoff from cultivated farmland
  • Stormwater runoff from developed land
  • Stormwater runoff from forested land
  • Stream bank erosion
  • Lake shoreline erosion from wind and boat wakes.”

The Watershed (Plan) Administrator and staff in the University of Maryland’s Extension services have examined and prioritized this issue as a significant and reachable goal/objective. Indeed, the University of MD Extension service has been running programs and is already maintaining a website regarding homeowner stormwater practices. In addition, the Extension service has on its staff a great team of watershed specialists who have led and will continue to lead educational programs about
stormwater management.

We, along with the Garrett College’s Continuing Education & Workforce Department, and the Garrett County Government, sponsor the University of Maryland Extension Service’s public presentations on managing stormwater runoff.  The problem is especially severe when rainwater runs over hard surfaces, such as driveways and rooftops, picking up sediment, chemicals, debris and toxins that are carried into local streams.  

The Extension Service’s presentations cover the use of rain barrels and cisterns, rain gardens, conservation landscaping and riparian buffer planting, among other ways to ameliorate runoff and prevent erosion. These sessions are presented by Ashley Bodkins, who also is an advisor to the Deep Creek Watershed Foundation. 

This project partially fulfills Goal 6 of the Watershed Management Plan.

Deep Creek Lake Tributary Bioassessment

Deep Creek Lake Tributary Bioassessment

During July 2022, a team from PennWest – California and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources conducted a synoptic bioassessment of 29 perennial Deep Creek Lake tributaries at sites selected by the Deep Creek Watershed Foundation. Most stations were established as close to the lake confluence as accessible. The team obtained water samples, assessed fish and macroinvertebrate communities, and performed habitat evaluations. Four stations exhibited flows too low to permit fish or macroinvertebrate collection. Here only water samples were taken.

Three stations were accessed via boat. Overall, results describe cool water streams that exhibit measurable total alkalinity and generally possess good chemical water quality. However, poor habitat, including siltation and embedded stream bottoms, resulted in low macroinvertebrate and fish abundance.

This study serves as a preliminary baseline against which future monitoring and mitigation efforts of Deep Creek Lake tributaries may be evaluated. This study aims to identify potential projects that the Foundation can undertake to preserve and protect the watershed. The contract amount for this work is $13,125. The project partially fulfills Goal 3 of the Watershed Management Plan. We are working with DNR to identify new projects from the collected data.

The Invasive Species Prevention Campaign


DNR is continuing its boat-cleaning, warning and education programs to prevent the introduction of invasive organisms into Deep Creek Lake, and we are planning to expand our efforts to assist them.As the first step in this new campaign, we’ve produced a new brochure that will be distributed throughout the watershed area, warning boaters to “STOP AQUATIC HITCHHIKERS!”

Deep Creek Water Quality

Water Quality Monitor Campaign Sees Success

The DCWF’s Water Quality Meter Campaign was initiated in the early part of 2020 and will continue during 2021. Board Members and Advisors to the Foundation realized that assisting the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deploy “state of the art” meters is critical to ensuring good water quality in Deep Creek Lake (DCL) for both the near term and long term. Biologists and other DNR Staff identify, through the data collected by the meters, potential impacts on Water Quality for further investigation and/or the application of appropriate remedies.

Due to the generosity of a wide variety of donors responding to our campaign and associated requests for support, the DCWF is able to purchase FOUR Water Quality Meters which will be donated to DNR for exclusive use at DCL in the coming years. The purchase of these meters represents a donation from the DCWF in the amount of $60,000 as part of the Foundation’s public-private partnership with the DNR which benefits DCL and the watershed. But there is more! In addition to all the above good news, the Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake (POA) also made a one-time contribution of approximately $15,000 to the DCWF enabling the purchase of a total of FIVE WATER QUALITY METERS which will be donated to DNR. These new meters will enable DNR to increase the breadth and specificity of water quality data which can be shared with the public.

YSI, the company which makes the meters, assisted with very reasonable pricing for this multiple meter purchase. In addition, the DCL Manager, Eric Null, and Natural Resources Biologists Julie Bortz and Christine King were instrumental in making certain the meters purchased by the Foundation and the POA contained the proper specifications to ensure their compatibility with those purchased by the DCL Manager for use at DCL.

From the Foundation’s perspective, the WQM Campaign thus far has been truly a successful team effort on the part of many folks and as the campaign continues this year we hope many more folks will donate to it so the Foundation will be able to do even more for DCL and the Deep Creek Watershed.

Please visit the DCWF website at: for more information and ways to donate.

Do you have questions? Call or visit us.

(703) 975-8485

P.O. Box 376
Oakland, MD 21550


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