An Investigation into the Water Surface Elevation Changes of Moreau Lake, Moreau Lake State Park, Saratoga County, NY

Science Center Objects

Background: Moreau Lake is located within Moreau Lake State Park, a 4,100 acre park divided by the Hudson River in northern Saratoga and southern Warren Counties of upstate New York. Moreau Lake has a surface area of 128 acres, a watershed of 469 acres, and 3.6 miles of shoreline. The lake has a “normal” mean depth of 32 feet and a maximum depth of 50 feet. An outlet control structure at the...

Background: 

Moreau Lake is located within Moreau Lake State Park, a 4,100 acre park divided by the Hudson River in northern Saratoga and southern Warren Counties of upstate New York.  Moreau Lake has a surface area of 128 acres, a watershed of 469 acres, and 3.6 miles of shoreline.  The lake has a “normal” mean depth of 32 feet and a maximum depth of 50 feet. An outlet control structure at the south end of the lake controls surface water outflow and protects adjacent property within the floodplain of Moreau Lake.  The lake is considered a kettle lake and as such is surrounded by ice-contact sand and gravel (NY State Parks, 2006).   Moreau Lake is a recreational water body used by the public for swimming, fishing, and boating and the surrounding area is used for hiking, camping, and beach activities.

Problem:  

In 2015, New York State Park officials monitoring the operation and public use of Moreau Lake observed a 4-5 feet decrease in the lake level.  Anecdotal observations indicate that seasonal fluctuation of lake level is normal, however the latest decline appears to be unprecedented.

Objective

Document the water-surface elevation of Moreau Lake, define the local hydrogeologic framework from available data, and assess the connection between lake level and the water-table elevation as measured in local wells.

Relevance and Benefits

This study will benefit New York State by providing a hydrologic understanding of lake levels in relation to local groundwater levels and potentially what factors control the water level of this multi-use water resource. With this information, options for managing the resource can be outlined.  The study serves the USGS Water Mission Area by enhancing the quality of life of citizens using this resource.

Approach

Our hypothesis is that the lake level is hydraulically connected to local groundwater and is essentially a surface water expression of the water table.  If so, defining the local water table surface is critical to understanding fluctuation of lake levels. To define this connection and better understand how the lake is responding to changes in the local groundwater elevation we propose the following:

1)            Install a continuous lake-level gage at Moreau Lake.  This gage will serve the dual need to monitor current conditions and to document changes in lake levels.

2)            Compile static groundwater elevations from nearby wells from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s groundwater well database to compare the local potentiometric surface elevations before the recent lake level decline.

3a)      Identify local wells where periodic measurement of static groundwater elevations can be made.

3b)     Survey measuring point elevations at local wells to the same datum as Moreau Lake.

3c)      Conduct static groundwater elevation surveys on a quarterly/seasonal basis at identified wells.

 

References

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, 2006, Final Master Plan for Moreau Lake State Park, 338p.

Project Location by County

Saratoga County, NY