Hydrologic characterization of Bushy Park Reservoir, South Carolina, 2013–15

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5050
Prepared in cooperation with Charleston Water System
By: , and 



The Bushy Park Reservoir is a relatively shallow impoundment in a semi-tropical climate and is the principal water supply for the 400,000 people of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, and the surrounding areas including the Bushy Park Industrial Complex. Although there is an adequate supply of freshwater in the reservoir, taste-and-odor water-quality issues are a concern. The U.S. Geological Survey conducted an investigation in cooperation with the Charleston Water System to study the hydrology and hydrodynamics of the Bushy Park Reservoir to identify factors affecting water-quality conditions. Specifically, five areas for monitoring and (or) analysis were addressed: (1) hydrologic monitoring of the reservoir to establish a water budget, (2) flow monitoring in the tunnels to compute flow from Bushy Park Reservoir and at critical distribution junctions, (3) water-quality sampling, profiling, and continuous monitoring to identify the causes of taste-and-odor occurrence, (4) technical evaluation of appropriate hydrodynamic and water-quality simulation models for the reservoir, and (5) preliminary evaluation of alternative reservoir operations scenarios.

This report describes the hydrodynamic and hydrologic data collected from 2013 to 2015 to support the application and calibration of a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model and the water-quality monitoring and analysis to gain insight into the principal causes of the Bushy Park Reservoir taste-and-odor episodes. The existing U.S. Geological Survey real-time network on the West Branch of the Cooper River was augmented with a tidal flow gage on Durham Canal Back River, and Foster Creek. The Charleston Water System intake structure was instrumented to collect water-level, water temperature (top and bottom probes), specific conductance (top and bottom probes), wind speed and direction, and photosynthetically active radiation data. In addition to the gages attached to fixed structures, four bottom-mounted velocity profilers were deployed at six locations over different periods. The deployment period for the velocity profiler ranged from 2 weeks to 4 months. During the investigation, tidal cycle (13-hour) streamflow measurements were made at 30-minute intervals at five locations.

The Williams Station is a coal-fired powerplant that withdraws water from Bushy Park Reservoir for cooling purposes. The magnitude of the withdrawal (approximately 550 million gallons per day) is the major factor controlling the circulation in the reservoir. The net flow in Durham Canal to the reservoir is comparable to the withdrawal rates of the powerplant. When the Williams Station is not withdrawing water, the net flow in Durham Canal quickly goes to zero or reverses with a net flow away from the reservoir and to the Cooper River. Plan views of the velocity vectors for the tidal cycle streamflow measurements and rose diagram of the velocity profilers created with the Williams Station withdrawing and not withdrawing water show substantial effects of the distribution of magnitude and direction of the water velocities.

Suggested Citation

Conrads, P.A., Petkewich, M.D., Falls, W.F., and Lanier, T.H., 2017, Hydrologic characterization of Bushy Park Reservoir, South Carolina, 2013–15: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5050, 83 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175050.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments 
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Water Use
  • Continuous Data-Collection Network 
  • Instrument Deployment and Recovery 
  • Velocity Mapping Transects
  • Characterization of the Reservoir Hydrology and Circulation
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Wind rose diagrams for Bushy Park Reservoir and Charleston International Airport
  • Appendix 2. Velocity mapping transects
  • Appendix 3. Velocity rose diagrams
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrologic characterization of Bushy Park Reservoir, South Carolina, 2013–15
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5050
DOI 10.3133/sir20175050
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description Report: ix, 83 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State South Carolina
Other Geospatial Santee-Cooper River Basin
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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