Saturday, March 13, 2010
Deep Creek Lake Level Still Being Lowered; Public Warned Of Dangerous Ice
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Lake Level Still Being Lowered; Public Warned Of Dangerous Ice
Mar. 11, 2010
The Deep Creek Hydroelectric Station issued another press release this week in its continuing effort to alert persons to the potentially dangerous conditions on Deep Creek Lake. The company is working with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to monitor the snow pack, lake ice thickness, and water level at the lake.
Brookfield Renewable Power, owner of the Deep Creek Hydroelectric Station, in ongoing consultation with the agencies, is making adjustments to the lake level in an effort to minimize serious and potentially damaging high water conditions that will occur as this winter's record lake ice and snow pack thaw. Recreational users of the lake should use extra caution as changing conditions can be dangerous. Persons should be aware that the water level is dropping, so the ice crust may be unsafe.
Brookfield announced last week that it had consulted with MDE and DNR and been granted a waiver to draw the lake level down to two feet below the March lower limit of its water use permit. The 2-foot drawdown was achieved on Sunday, March 7.
The Deep Creek Hydroelectric Station operates under a Water Appropriation and Use permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Under the permit conditions, the station uses water to generate hydropower, while keeping lake levels within a defined "rule band" with upper and lower limits. Any waiver from the rule band limits must be approved by MDE.
Representatives of the MDE, DNR, and Brookfield met Monday to review current lake levels, weather forecasts, and the latest measurement of the snow pack and lake ice. At that meeting, it was determined that Brookfield will continue to gradually lower the lake level beyond the original 2-foot waiver.
"Our goal is to get the lake to a level where it can safely accommodate the snow melt, thus avoiding high water and pressure on the dam," said David Barnhart, general manager for Brookfield's Mid-America Operations. "We've agreed with MDE to do all we can to lower the lake further."
Barnhart added that public safety is a top priority for all involved. Brookfield, MDE and DNR continue to advise users on or near Deep Creek Lake to be observant for changing conditions.
"With the water level being drawn away under the ice cover, and this week's spring-like temperatures, we continue to remind users of the surface of Deep Creek Lake to be extremely cautious," said Carolyn Mathews, manager of the Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area.
She added that unseen hazards "always exist when recreating on naturally-formed ice."
The officials said that lower water levels and warmer temperatures may present the following dangers:
•Ice that cracks or suddenly shifts as additional weight is applied;
•Ice that shifts, lifts, and/or settles, creating unexpected ridges;
• Ice slabs that break off near the shoreline, creating open water between stable interior ice and the shore.
Because many people are potentially affected by the lowering of the water level, MDE is requiring that public notice be provided to the local media. For more information on the lake's level, persons may visit www.deepcreekhydro.com.
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