Bathymetric mapping, sediment quality, and water quality of Lake Delhi, Iowa, 2001-02

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4085

Prepared in cooperation with the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, University of Northern Iowa, and the Lake Delhi Association
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Lake Delhi was formed in 1929 when the Interstate Power Company dammed the Maquoketa River near Delhi, Iowa, for generation of hydroelectric power. The resulting 450-acre lake became a popular area in eastern Iowa for boating, swimming, and fishing. Hydroelectric power generation ended in 1973, and lakeside residents purchased the dam to maintain the recreational opportunities of the lake. Increasing concerns about sediment deposition and water quality by lakeside residents led to a 2-year study that included a bathymetric survey, an assessment of sediment quality, and an assessment of water quality of Lake Delhi.

A bathymetric map of Lake Delhi was constructed using more than 300,000 data points from echo sounding results and GIS (geographic information system) software. Results of bathymetric mapping showed that the upstream reach through most of the upstream-middle reach of Lake Delhi (approximately 3 miles) from about 0.25 mile upstream from the Greenslades coring site through Clair View Acres were particularly affected by sedimentation, with water depths ranging from less than 1 foot to a few areas that were as much as 10 feet deep. Numerous areas in the upstream-most 1-mile of the lake (about 0.25 mile upstream from the Greenslades coring site to just downstream from The Cedars coring site) had depths of only 1 to 2 feet and were nearly impassable by boats. The middle reach of Lake Delhi (an approximately 2.5-mile segment) from about one-half mile upstream from the Linden Acres coring site to just downstream from the Hartwick Dredge coring site was less affected by sedimentation with water depths from less than 1 to 16 feet. The deepest section (26 feet) of the lake was near the dam.

Eleven trace metals and phosphorus were analyzed in 20 samples from seven lake-bottom sediment cores. The median and average traceelement concentrations from the sediment cores were less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold-effects-level and probableeffects-level guidelines for toxic biological effects. Water-quality samples from eight sites (Maquoketa River, three lake sites, and four tributaries) were collected for five sampling periods (June 2001–July 2002). Water-quality samples were analyzed for physical properties (specific conductance, pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and alkalinity), nutrients (nitrate, ammonia, and phosphorus), bacteria (total coliform and E. coli), and suspended sediment. Selected water samples were analyzed for major ions, trace elements, and pesticides.

Water-quality sampling results indicate areas affected by elevated nutrient and bacteria concentrations in the lake and tributary streams. The tributary streams had the highest median nitrate concentrations (12.1 milligrams per liter) when compared to median nitrate concentrations in the lake (8.7 milligrams per liter) or the Maquoketa River (10.5 milligrams per liter). The maximum nitrate concentrations detected for Maquoketa River, lake, and tributary sites were 13.5, 13.5, and 18.6 milligrams per liter, respectively. Nitrate concentrations in the late summer decreased from 2 Bathymetric Mapping, Sediment Quality, and Water Quality of Lake Delhi, Iowa, 2001–02 the upstream (7.8 milligrams per liter) to the downstream (5.0 milligrams per liter) one-third of Lake Delhi and most likely were the result of uptake of nitrate by algae and aquatic biota in the lake. Median concentrations of total coliform and E. coli bacteria for the lake sites were 450 and 17 colonies per 100 milliliters of sample, respectively. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criteria for full body contact (swimming or bathing) are 200 colonies per 100 milliliters for fecal bacteria and 126 colonies per 100 milliliters for E. coli bacteria. The highest bacteria concentrations in the lake occurred after a rain and were 25,000 colonies per 100 milliliters total coliform and 1,900 colonies per 100 milliliters E. coli.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Bathymetric mapping, sediment quality, and water quality of Lake Delhi, Iowa, 2001-02
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Iowa Water Science Center
iv, 38 p.; col. maps: 28 cm.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Lake Delhi
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