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Bathymetry and capacity of Chambers Lake, Chester County, Pennsylvania

October 26, 2015


Chambers Lake is a manmade reservoir on Birch Run, a tributary to West Branch Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The lake was created in 1994 after the completion of Multi-Purpose Dam PA-436F (Hibernia Dam), which was built under the Watershed Protection & Flood Control Prevention Act (U.S. Soil Conservation Service, 1991). Hibernia dam is 1,700 feet upstream from the confluence of Birch Run with West Branch Brandywine Creek. The primary objectives for Hibernia Dam were to provide (1) flood control, (2) a supplemental source of water supply for the greater City of Coatesville public water system, and (3) recreational opportunities. The drainage basin of Chambers Lake encompasses approximately 4.5 square miles, and the lake covers a surface area of about 95 acres at normal pool, which is at an elevation of 579.2 feet above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) [580.0 feet above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29)]. The crest of the auxiliary spillway of the dam is 586.6 feet above NAVD 88. The elevation of the auxiliary spillway is important to this investigation because this elevation defines the flood storage capacity of Chambers Lake. Water levels exceeding this elevation are routed through the auxiliary spillway and flow through adjoining woodland to Birch Run.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Chester County Water Resources Authority (CCWRA) and the County of Chester, surveyed the bathymetry and selected above-water features of Chambers Lake in September 2014. The purpose of the survey was to develop an accurate representation of the surface of the bottom of Chambers Lake and to determine the stage area and reservoir-storage capacity relation as of September 2014. CCWRA is responsible for operation of the dam and water-supply reservoir. Since construction, CCWRA has used a stage–storage capacity relation developed from the original survey conducted in the 1990s to estimate the volume of water available for water supply and the available flood storage. The bathymetric mapping effort was initiated due to interest in potential changes in current (2014) storage capacity when compared to the stage–storage capacity relation developed during design. The generated bathymetric surface may serve as a baseline to which temporal changes in storage capacity, owing to sedimentation and other factors, can be compared. In addition, these data will improve the overall accuracy of the stage–storage capacity table that CCWRA uses for reservoir and flood management operations.

This report describes the methods used to create a bathymetric map of Chambers Lake for the computation of reservoir storage capacity as of September 2014. The product is a bathymetric map and a table showing the storage capacity of the reservoir at 2-foot increments from minimum usable elevation up to full capacity at the crest of the auxiliary spillway.

Publication Year 2015
Title Bathymetry and capacity of Chambers Lake, Chester County, Pennsylvania
DOI 10.3133/sim3346
Authors Matthew C. Gyves
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Map
Series Number 3346
Index ID sim3346
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center