Effects of a surface circulator on temperature, dissolved oxygen, water velocity, and photosynthetic yield in Falling Creek Reservoir

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Cyanobacteria are a naturally occurring component of reservoir aquatic ecosystems. Given that some species possess the ability to control their depth within the water column, they have a competitive advantage over other species of photosynthetic organisms. This leads to the potential for cyanobacteria blooms, and because of taste and odor problems, as well as possible toxin production associated with certain species of cyanobacteria, these organisms can cause major problems in drinking water production. The Western Virginia Water Authority installed a solar-powered circulator in Falling Creek Reservoir, located in Bedford County, Virginia, in an attempt to limit the growth of these organisms through limiting light exposure by circulating them deeper within the reservoir. Experiments were performed during the summer of 2008 to quantify the effect of the circulator on the reservoir. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, water velocity, and photosynthetic yield were monitored before and during operation of the unit. The overall effect of the mixer was limited to the first 10 m immediately adjacent to the unit during the afternoon. The effect was stronger during the morning when the difference in density between the intake water and the surface of the reservoir was smaller, allowing the water to travel up to 80 m away from the unit. Although the circulator was only intended to mix and possibly deepen the epilimnion, the entire reservoir became mixed about two weeks after the circulator was put into operation. The reservoir is quite shallow, leading to a weak stratification that is easily disrupted by the operation of the circulator.

stratification, mixing, circulator, cyanobacteria, epilimnion, odors