Quantifying impacts of upstream reservoirs on the Potomac River due to Consumptive Use




Lanza, Beverly

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The Potomac River basin is home to more than six million residents and has experienced moderate and severe droughts in the past (e.g., 1930, 1966, 1999, and 2002). With population growth and consequential increasing water demands, net water withdrawals by upstream users can impact the water supplies for downstream populations, as for example in the Washington Metropolitan Area (WMA). Three reservoirs, Jennings Randolph, Savage, and Little Seneca, are part of the WMA water supply system, and are used to augment Potomac River flow during droughts. This study focuses on investigating if upstream reservoirs which are not part of the WMA system partially mitigate the impacts of Upstream Consumptive Use (CU) on the Potomac River. Therefore, a GIS inventory of the ten largest reservoirs located in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia was created. The GIS database includes the following information: location, owner, storage capacity, reservoir inflows, and current water supply demands. Each parameter listed above was analyzed along with a safe yield calculation for each reservoir. All of this information is useful and must be considered in order to properly determine the impacts upstream reservoirs. Therefore, through this study we aim to support the planning and management of water resources in the region.