Deposition and simulation of sediment transport in the Lower Susquehanna River reservoir system

Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4122
By: , and 



The Susquehanna River drains 27,510 square miles in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and is the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Three large hydroelectric dams are located on the river, Safe Harbor (Lake Clarke) and Holtwood (Lake Aldred) in southern Pennsylvania, and Conowingo (Conowingo Reservoir) in northern Maryland. About 259 million tons of sediment have been deposited in the three reservoirs. Lake Clarke contains about 90.7 million tons of sediment, Lake Aldred contains about 13.6 million tons, and Conowingo Reservoir contains about 155 million tons. An estimated 64.8 million tons of sand, 19.7 million tons of coal, 112 million tons of silt, and 63.3 million tons of clay are deposited in the three reservoirs. Deposition in the reservoirs is variable and ranges from 0 to 30 feet. Chemical analyses of sediment core samples indicate that the three reservoirs combined contain about 814,000 tons of organic nitrogen, 98,900 tons of ammonia as nitrogen, 226,000 tons of phosphorus, 5,610,000 1tons of iron, 2,250,000 tons of aluminum, and about 409,000 tons of manganese. Historical data indicate that Lake Clarke and Lake Aldred have reached equilibrium, and that they no longer store sediment. A comparison of cross-sectional data from Lake Clarke and Lake Aldred with data from Conowingo Reservoir indicates that Conowingo Reservoir will reach equilibrium within the next 20 to 30 years. As the Conowingo Reservoir fills with sediment and approaches equilibrium, the amount of sediment transported to the Chesapeake Bay will increase. The most notable increases will take place when very high flows scour the deposited sediment. Sediment transport through the reservoir system was simulated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' HEC-6 computer model. The model was calibrated with monthly sediment loads for calendar year 1987. Calibration runs with options set for maximum trap efficiency and a "natural" particle-size distribution resulted in an overall computed trap efficiency of 34 percent for 1987, much less than the measured efficiency of 71 percent.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Deposition and simulation of sediment transport in the Lower Susquehanna River reservoir system
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 95-4122
DOI 10.3133/wri954122
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Description vi, 39 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
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