Neutralizing Acid Mine Drainage

We are supporting the lime doser operated by the Maryland Department of the Environment to fight acid mine drainage from Cherry Creek into Deep Creek Lake.  Cherry Creek is one of the major streams in the Deep Creek Watershed, and a major route for water flowing into Deep Creek Lake.  The largest of the mines near Cherry Creek discharges an average of 60 gallons of acid mine drainage per minute.  The U.S. Department of the Interior and the State of Maryland have worked to neutralize the acid in the water with projects that include a limestone doser (originally paid for by the Sprenger-Lang Foundation), that releases regulated amounts of acid-neutralizing limestone into the water.  We are now adding our strength to these teams by paying for the limestone that goes into the doser.  We wrote a letter of support to Trout Unlimited who are coordinating a grant to upgrade the facilities at the Everhart Mine on Cherry Creek upstream of the Lake.

Managing Stormwater Runoff

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.  Contact information: Ashley is also coordinating the University of Maryland Master Gardner program on behalf of the Foundation: .

Watching for Zebra Mussels

We have joined with Brookfield Renewable Power, to help the Maryland Department of Natural Resources test the waters and habitats in Deep Creek Lake to see if there are any indications that the lake has been invaded by the terribly destructive Zebra Mussels, a species originally native to the lakes of southern Russia and Ukraine.  These mussels, which have invaded other lakes in the U.S., including rivers and lakes near us, are usually carried into lakes on the bottom of boats.  They have sharp shells that are a danger to swimmers who step on them, they clog hydroelectric dams, and they have a toxin that has killed thousands of birds.  The tests so far have yielded the good news that Deep Creek Lake shows no presence of Zebra Mussels, and we are keeping up the watch for these and other dangerous invaders. 


Water Quality Monitoring

We are committed to assisting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with their new Water Quality Monitoring System. This system will allow for DNR to record the lake’s baseline water quality and determine how the watershed affects the lake’s water quality.  Establishing the baseline in this first year will be crucial for detecting any changes to the quality of the lake’s water. This new program will allow for continuous water quality data instead of the current random sampling and limited data. Continuous Monitoring Meters will be deployed in all major coves in Deep Creek Lake to help further identify sources of variation. The meters identify and record pH, temperature, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll. Consistent monitoring of these markers will provide a clearer picture of the lake’s natural fluctuations. An array of these monitors around the lake will afford an excellent data base to monitor the impacts of stormwater events, water levels, boat or wind driven waves, shoreline erosion, and perhaps sewage discharges. The meters the state has in place are reaching the end of their useful lives, with one exception. An estimate of the cost of each new meter is about $23,000.  The Foundation intends to fund as many of these meters as possible based on contributions. The data provided by these meters will be crucial for identifying areas of concern that warrant future projects and special attention.

Lake Water Level and Temperature Monitoring 

In partnership with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources a continuous monitoring of lake level and temperature gauge has been installed near the State Park.  The data is posted on the USGS webpage.  

The link for the gauge is: ml&site_no=03075871&period=&begin_date=2020-07-12&end_date=2020-08-12.  

The level gauge and the temperature component require regular calibration and maintenance.  The Foundation has committed to paying for the maintenance costs. 

Eric Null, the Lake Manager has written a note about the utility of the 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), wind mixes the  surface with the deeper water,  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 food chain of the lake. These nutrients provide the fuel for life in the lake through the winter and the summer. Without the natural phenomenon of turnover, 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 temperature, nutrient, and oxygen concentration of the surface changes dramatically for a week or two, usually forcing fish to the bottom of a lake and suppressing their appetites. Also, temperature dictates where in a lake certain fish species will be feeding. Temperature stratification of a lake in summer is the key contributing factor to fishing success.”