Capacity and Area of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Northeastern Oklahoma, 2009

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5040
Prepared in cooperation with the Grand River Dam Authority
By:  and 



In February 2017, the Grand River Dam Authority filed to relicense the Pensacola Hydroelectric Project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The predominant feature of the Pensacola Hydroelectric Project is Pensacola Dam, which impounds Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees (locally called Grand Lake) in northeastern Oklahoma. Identification of information gaps and assessment of project effects on stakeholders are central aspects of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process. Due to the natural changes to the reservoir over time, new capacity and area tables are needed periodically. The most recent complete capacity and area table was produced in 1940. Capacity and area tables identify the relations between the elevation of the water surface and the volume of water that can be impounded at each water surface elevation. This report (1) presents an updated capacity and area table for Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees for 2009, (2) describes the methods used to calculate the updated capacity and area values presented in the table, and (3) compares the updated capacity table to historical capacity tables produced from a survey in 1940 and from a hydrographic survey of the lake by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in 2009.

The new capacity values computed for Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees indicate that capacity at conservation pool elevation has decreased about 157,000 acre-feet or 10 percent since 1940 and capacity at top of dam elevation has decreased about 200,000 acre-feet or 8 percent since 1940. This difference in the capacities could be attributed to the advancements of technologies; the techniques used for surveying lakes have changed from the 1940 survey to the 2009 survey. Another possible reason for loss in capacity could be as time progresses, lakes like Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees slowly impound sediment carried by the rivers that feed into the lakes, thus diminishing the amount of water that the lake holds. The most recent survey used measured water depths and Global Position System collected electronically, but the methods used to collect data in 1940 are unknown. Due to the advancement of technology, the 2009 survey is likely more precise than the 1940 survey.

Suggested Citation

Hunter, S.L., and Labriola, L.G., 2019, Capacity and area of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, northeastern Oklahoma, 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5040, 18 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods for Computing Capacity and Area
  • Capacity and Area Results
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Capacity and area of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, northeastern Oklahoma, 2009
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5040
DOI 10.3133/sir20195040
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Oklahoma Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 18 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Oklahoma
Other Geospatial Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details