During the summer and fall, seepage and evaporation losses from Horseshoe Lake, an oxbow or an 'old river' lake adjacent to the Mississippi River, exceed inflow to the lake, and seasonal declines of 2.5-3.0 feet in the lake level are common. In exceptionally dry years, the minimum lake level has been as much as 4 feet below the normal seasonal low. These low levels severely affect the recreational uses of the lake.
Seepage and evaporation rates at Horseshoe Lake were determined from hydrologic and meteorologic data. Analysis of these data indicates that the direction of seepage is out of the lake except for a period of about 2 months in the spring, when the stage of the Mississippi River is high.
The lake can be maintained at a constant level by supplementing the inflow to the lake with surface or ground water. Contributions to the lake from local drainage can be increased, but this water contains undesirable amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and plant nutrients, and the flow is insufficient to eliminate seasonal declines in the lake level. Water from r the Mississippi River can be used to maintain a given lake level, but the bacteriological quality of water from the river makes this an undesirable source of supplemental water. Water from the Quaternary alluvium contains troublesome amounts of iron, but it probably is free of pesticides, herbicides, and coliform bacteria which are commonly found in surface water.
An electric-analog model was used to determine the rate at which inflow to the lake must be supplemented to maintain various lake levels. During this investigation, the lake could have been maintained very near the normal spring level by supplementing the inflow at a maximum rate of 10,600 gallons per minute. The analog model was also used to determine the effects of pumping wells on seepage. With the exception of wells near the southeast end of the lake, wells located within one-half mile of the lake would obtain more than 50 percent of their yield from the lake after pumping for 90 days.