Water-Balance Modeling of Selected Lakes for Evaluating Viability as Long-Term Fisheries in Kidder, Logan, and Stutsman Counties, North Dakota

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5007
Prepared in cooperation with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department
By: , and 

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Abstract

Water levels in lakes and wetlands in the central North Dakota Missouri Coteau region that were either dry or only sporadically held water since before the 1930s have been rising since the early 1990s in response to an extended wet period. The lakes have remained full since the mid-1990s, which has provided benefits to migratory waterfowl, fisheries, and wildlife. A small shift in climate conditions, either to drier or wetter conditions, can have a large effect on the lake levels of these water bodies. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department identified five lakes as candidates for sustaining long-term fisheries. The lakes are in Kidder, Stutsman, and Logan Counties, and some lakes might receive inflow from mostly freshwater aquifers, such as the Central Dakota and Streeter aquifers, and were mostly dry during the early 1990s. After about 1995, the lakes had filled up and were deep enough to sustain populations of game fish such as walleye, perch, and northern pike. Before investing in development of permanent fisheries and associated infrastructure, such as campgrounds and boat ramps, fisheries biologists needed to know if the lake levels are likely to remain high in coming decades.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, developed a water-balance model to determine the effects of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and groundwater interaction on lake volumes. The model was developed using climate input data and lake volumes for the calibration period 1992 through 2016, during which historical lake volumes could be estimated using land surface elevation data and Landsat images. Long-term (1940–2018) climate input data were used with the water-balance model to reconstruct historical lake volumes prior to the calibration period, and block-bootstrapping was used to simulate potential future climate input data and lake volumes for 2017 through 2067. The simulated future lake volumes were used to estimate the likelihood of annual lake volumes remaining consistent, increasing, or decreasing through the year 2067.

Of the five lakes, Sibley Lake was the most likely to sustain a long-term fishery for a period longer than 50 years. The simulated lake volumes for Alkaline Lake, Big Mallard Marsh, and Remmick Lake indicated the lakes have a 50-percent chance to fall below 75 percent of their 2016 volume by about 2030, 2067, and 2025, respectively. Simulation results for Marvin Miller Lake were substantially different compared to the other four lakes and indicated the lake has a 50-percent chance to fall below 75 percent of its 2016 volume prior to 2025.

Suggested Citation

Lundgren, R.F., York, B.C., Stroh, N.A., and Vecchia, A.V., 2019, Water-balance modeling of selected lakes for evaluating viability as long-term fisheries in Kidder, Logan, and Stutsman Counties, North Dakota: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5007, 22 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20195007.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Data Resources
  • Water-Balance Model Development
  • Water-Balance Model Simulations
  • Simulated Future Lake Volumes
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Water-Balance Modeling R Documentation and Supporting Dataset

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water-balance modeling of selected lakes for evaluating viability as long-term fisheries in Kidder, Logan, and Stutsman Counties, North Dakota
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5007
DOI 10.3133/sir20195007
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Dakota Water Science Center
Description Report: v, 22 p.; Downloads
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Kidder County, Logan County, Stutsman County
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y