Date Presented

Spring 5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Environmental Science

First Advisor

Thomas Shahady, PhD

Second Advisor

Jennifer Styrsky, PhD

Third Advisor

Nina Salmon, PhD


Pump storage hydroelectricity is a system built by power companies where a dam separating an upper and lower reservoir is used in power generation by passing water between both reservoirs. Environmental regulations require a minimum of 5mg/L of dissolved oxygen be maintained at all times passing through each dam. In central Virginia, American Electric Power operates a hydroelectric Pump Storage Project that includes an upper reservoir, Smith Mountain Lake (SML), and a lower reservoir, Leesville Lake (LL). Unique to this system is the influx of high concentrations of nutrients and other pollutants into the upper reaches of Leesville Lake from a 1015 km2 Pigg River watershed less than 10 km from SML dam. This study examined the pump-storage operational influence of water exchanged between reservoirs with movement of Pigg River influx creating low dissolved oxygen concentrations at dam release. The study found that pump-storage coupled with Pigg River influx influences water quality parameters in Smith Mountain Lake release, specifically pertaining to dissolved oxygen reductions. Based on these findings, pump-storage operation should be considered in water quality management as these movements of water can be implicated in both release and overall observations in operational reservoirs.