News Release…Record Snow Fall at Deep Creek Lake May Result in Unprecedented Spring Melt
Deep Creek Hydroelectric Station to Lower Lake Levels; Lake Users Encouraged to Take Extra Safety Precautions
March 3, 2010, Oakland, MD – Sooner or later the record snow fall at Deep Creek Lake must melt and that could cause a record spring runoff. To a limited extent, Deep Creek Lake levels can be controlled by the Deep Creek Hydroelectric Station which operates under a Water Appropriation and Use permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Under the permit conditions, the Station, which is owned by Brookfield Renewable Power, uses water to generate hydropower, but keeps Lake levels within a defined “rule band” with upper and lower limits. This year’s unprecedented snow fall will likely result in an unprecedented snow melt, particularly if temperatures warm quickly.
To avoid serious and potentially damaging high water conditions at the dam and on the Lake, the Maryland Department of the Environment has approved Brookfield’s request to draw the Lake level down two feet below its permitted March lower limit. The draw down, which began on March 1, will take place gradually, with a maximum of 0.5 feet reduction per day. David Barnhart, General Manager for Brookfield’s Mid-America Operations said, “Together with MDE, we are doing what we can to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of the spring thaw. As this winter proves, you never know what Mother Nature will throw you and an early, sustained thaw may result in higher than usual water levels.”
The lowered water levels beneath the ice cover, combined with warming temperatures, pose unpredictable risks to recreational users of Deep Creek Lake. Carolyn Mathews, Manager of the Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area advises, “People should remember that there are always hazards to recreating on naturally-formed ice. Lowering the Lake to make additional storage space for the anticipated above normal spring runoff may destabilize the Lake’s ice and we urge everyone to take special care to stay safe.”
The MDE, Brookfield, and the Department of Natural Resources continue to monitor the Lake levels and weather conditions to determine whether additional actions for safety of recreational users may be required. Lake levels can be found at www.deepcreekhydro.com.
(Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., Maryland Department of the Environment)