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Clinton Lake Filling with Sediment Faster than Expected
Released: 5/17/2011 1:52:04 PM

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Kyle Juracek 1-click interview
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Clinton Lake, near Lawrence, Kan., is filling up with sediment about 70 percent faster than what was originally planned when the reservoir was completed in 1977, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Increased sediment reduces the ability for Clinton Lake to serve several purposes including flood control, water supply, and recreation. 

Analysis of sediment cores indicate that Clinton Lake is experiencing increased algal blooms of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria. Algal blooms are a concern because they can result in taste-and-odor problems for water suppliers and they can produce toxins. This study, done in cooperation between the USGS and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, can be found online

"Results from this study will help revise the Total Maximum Daily Loads, or the largest amount of pollutants allowed, for Clinton Lake to meet water quality standards," said Tom Stiles, Kansas Department of Health and Environment. "This study will provide baseline information for the local Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy group to use in management efforts in the Upper Wakarusa watershed, intended to improve the water quality of Clinton Lake." 

About 8 percent of the reservoir's original water-storage capacity was lost because of sedimentation as of 2009 when the Kansas Biological Survey and the Kansas Water Office mapped the reservoir bottom. Scientists estimate that water-storage capacity of the multi-purpose pool has been lost to sedimentation at the rate of about 0.25 percent annually. 

The sediment analyzed from the bottom of the reservoir did not contain high levels of trace metals. Measured concentrations of trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc were well below levels at which toxic biological effects frequently occur.   

More information about USGS sediment studies can be found on the USGS Kansas Water Science Center website

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