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Environmental and Recreational Issues - Lake

 

Study nets below Deep Creek Station Powerhouse

Entrainment Study Nets below Deep Creek Station Powerhouse

Lake Fisheries

Because of a deep water intake, concerns were raised during relicensing about entrainment of trout and other deep water species. Entrainment studies were conducted in the early 1990's using nets to evaluate the importance of this issue (see photograph at right).

Warm surface water conditions in summer and a deeper cool water environment create favorable conditions for both warm and cool water fish species. The fish community of Deep Creek Lake has a total of 23 fish species. The major sport species include walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegill, rock bass, and black crappie. Additionally, Maryland DNR annually stocks brown trout. The major forage fish in the lake is golden shiner.

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historic Deep Creek water levels
Monthly historic Deep Creek Lake Water Levels 1970-1990

Lake Levels

Water levels in Deep Creek Lake were sometimes lower than the boat ramp at Deep Creek State Park by mid-September and the rate at which the water level dropped could be as much as two feet in one month. These water level issues were of concern to lake users.

The Deep Creek dam impounds a 3,900 acre lake with a 65 square mile drainage area. Historically, the project was operated to maximize storage of spring runoff and provide for power generation year-round. This resulted in an average annual water level change of about 9 feet. Since the early 1970's, the project has been operated to provide suitable levels for lake recreation and the average water level change since that time has been about 7-8 feet.

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Lake Recreation

Deep Creek Lake is the center of Garrett County's recreational attractions. Among the popular water-based activities are boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing and sailing. These activities can be affected by lake levels since underwater hazards may be more exposed as water levels decline. There may also be aesthetic concerns as lower water levels result in a greater area of exposed shoreline. The 3,900 acre lake offers year round recreational opportunities, but is most popular during the summer months. People are drawn to Deep Creek Lake for a number of reasons and participate in water and/or land-based recreation.

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This page was updated on October 15, 2013 .