Determining Impacts of Sediment Using Cesium-137

by J. W. Naney, USDA, United States,
S. C. McIntyre, USDA, United States,
J. R. Cooper, USDA, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Critical Water Issues and Computer Applications


Tecumseh Lake, in east-central Oklahoma, completed about 1934, has been identified by the Oklahoma Water Resource Board as a water supply critical to future development of the state. Aerial photographs provided data on agricultural land use changes in the watershed since 1937. Cesium-137, a fallout product of atmospheric nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s, was used as a tracer to identify sediment layers and determine deposition rates. Cesium-137 concentration in lake bottom sediment cores indicates a distinct reduction in sediment deposition associated with a major shift in land use from cotton to grass pasture by 1951, and suggests that sedimentation rates could be accelerated by land clearing for urban development in the future. Cesium-137 data provide a better understanding of how, based upon a chronological photographic history of the watershed, a water supply lake such as Tecumseh Lake is impacted over time by major changes in land use and watershed management. This study indicates that important impacts on the lake are evident in less than the 50 to 100 years typically used as planning criteria for water supply lakes.

Subject Headings: Land use | Sediment | Water quality | Water resources | Water supply | Watersheds | Aerial photography | Irrigation water | Oklahoma | United States

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