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.