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Sediment inflow into a reservoir

In this photo, sediment-laden water from a inflow stream is entering a much clearer Lake Tuscaloosa in Alabama, USA. Many lakes in the southeastern United States are really reservoirs, or rivers with a dam, which causes the river water to back up and form a lake. The water in these lakes comes directly from inflow of the river that was originally dammed, inflow from tributaries draining into the river upstream of the dam or directly into the lake, and from runoff from precipitation in the watershed surrounding and upstream of the lake. Groundwater can seep into the river and lake, also, but that would not be a source of sediment.

I don't know the exact circumstances of the sediment-heavy inflow into the main body of Lake Tuscaloosa here, but this could be a case of a large rainstorm occuring somewhere in the watershed, possibly in a distant location from the lake. If a storm occured over a landscape that was able to contribute dirt into a tributary, then the sediment-laden tributary flow would eventually flow into Lake Tuscaloosa. It is very common to see parts of lakes that have heavy suspended sediment and turbidities and much clearer water literally yards away. If this is a common occurrence in the lake, I would suspect that the values of the houses on the far shore are higher than those on the closer shore.

Sediment-laden water from a inflow stream entering a much clearer Lake Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA (Credit: City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Credit: City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 02-May-2014 11:25:28 EDT