Water Quality Analysis (WQA) with EPA Concurrence of MDE's Findings: Lake Habeeb

Lake Habeeb is an impoundment located in Rocky Gap State Park, in Allegany County, Maryland. The surface area of the lake is 243 acres (0.38 square miles). The lake lies in a valley between Evitts and Martin Mountains. The impoundment, which is owned by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, lies on Rocky Gap Run, a tributary of the Evitts Creek. An earthen dam was installed for the purpose of recreational uses in 1969. Rocky Gap State Park has swimming, hunting, camping, boat launching facilities, and is home to panfish, trout, catfish and large and smallmouth bass.  Brown trout and rainbow trout are stocked throughout the year. A major resort and conference center has been constructed at the south end of the lake, including a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.  Drinking water for the resort and campground is withdrawn from the lake and treated at a newly-constructed plant.

The Lake Habeeb watershed sits on the Allegheny Plateau. The watershed area is 9.5 square miles, of which 45% (4.3 square miles), the downstream portion containing Lake Habeeb, lies in Maryland. The remainder is in Pennsylvania.  Evitts Mountain is located west of the watershed and Martin Mountain lies east of the watershed.

Lake Habeeb is located in the Evitts Creek watershed (basin code 02141002).  The lake was first identified as impaired by nutrients on the State’s List of Water Quality Limited Segments (1998) based on sampling in 1993 that found dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations below the State’s numeric criteria of 5.0 mg/L in deeper layers of the lake. Low DO concentrations are typical at lower depths in thermally stratified waters, such as Lake Habeeb, and Maryland’s water quality standards have historically allowed for excursions below the DO criteria due to natural conditions. Based on Maryland’s interpretation of this narrative criteria, however, the DO levels were deemed to be depleted beyond what would be expected from natural conditions, and a TMDL for Phosphorus in Lake Habeeb was submitted to the USEPA and approved in 2000.

Since the approval of the 2000 TMDL, Maryland has refined its interpretation of the natural conditions clause based on an improved understanding of oxygen depletion in stratified lakes. The current guidelines are laid out in the 2014 Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality. Based on these updated guidelines, and using data from a rigorous monitoring program in 2014, MDE has revisited the assessment of the lake.

The analysis shows the DO criteria, as well as the chlorophyll a criteria for drinking water impoundments, are all being achieved, and that the designated use of the lake is supported. The results of this analysis support the conclusion that a TMDL for nutrients is not necessary to achieve water quality standards.  Therefore, the previously developed TMDL has been withdrawn. Any TMDLs for downstream waters or streams within the Lake Habeeb watershed, such as the 2007 TMDL for sediment in the Evitts Creek watershed, will remain in effect.

Barring any contradictory future data, this report will be used as supporting material when the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) proposes the revision of Maryland’s Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality for public review. Although the waters of Lake Habeeb do not display signs of eutrophication, the State reserves the right to require future controls in the Lake Habeeb watershed if evidence suggests nutrients from the basin are contributing to downstream water quality problems. 

WQA of Eutrophication
 for Lake Habeeb, Allegany County, MD

(EPA Concurrence: November 3, 2016)

EPA's Decision Letter EPA's Decision Letter (39KB)
Main Report habeeb_WQA.pdf (1889KB)
Comment Response Document

habeeb_crd.pdf (9KB)


Contact Information

Please direct questions or comments concerning this project to Maryland's TMDL Program at (410) 537-3818. ​