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Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5057

Sedimentation Survey of Lago Cerrillos, Ponce, Puerto Rico, April–May 2008

By Luis R. Soler-López

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Lago Cerrillos dam, located in the municipality of Ponce in southern Puerto Rico, was constructed in 1991 as part of the multipurpose Río Portugues and Bucaná Project. This project provides flood protection, water supply, and recreation facilities for the municipio of Ponce. The reservoir had an original storage capacity of 38.03 million cubic meters at maximum conservation pool elevation of 174.65 meters above mean sea level and a drainage area of 45.32 square kilometers.

Sedimentation in Lago Cerrillos reservoir has reduced the storage capacity from 38.03 million cubic meters in 1991 to 37.26 million cubic meters in 2008, which represents a total storage loss of about 2 percent. During July 29 to August 23, 2002, 8,492 cubic meters of sediment were removed from the Río Cerrillos mouth of the reservoir. Taking into account this removed material, the total water-storage loss as of 2008 is 778,492 cubic meters, and the long-term annual water-storage capacity loss rate is about 45,794 cubic meters per year or about 0.12 percent per year.

The Lago Cerrillos net sediment-contributing drainage area has an average sediment yield of about 1,069 cubic meters per square kilometer per year. Sediment accumulation in Lago Cerrillos is not uniformly distributed and averages about 3 meters in thickness. This represents a sediment deposition rate of about 18 centimeters per year. On the basis of the 2008 reservoir storage capacity of 37.26 million cubic meters per year and a long-term sedimentation rate of 45,794 cubic meters per year, Lago Cerrillos is estimated to have a useful life of about 814 years or until the year 2822.

First posted June 9, 2011

For additional information contact:
Luis R. Soler-López
U.S. Geological Survey
Caribbean Water Science Center
GSA Center building 651
Federal Drive, Suite 400-15
Guaynabo, PR 00965

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Suggested citation:

Soler-López, L.R., Sedimentation Survey of Lago Cerrillos, Ponce, Puerto Rico, April–May 2008: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5057, 20 p., 1 pl., available at



Description of Cerrillos Dam and Reservoir, and General Basin Characteristics

Method of Survey

Field Techniques

Data Processing

Sediment Accumulation and Effect on Reservoir Storage
Lago Cerrillos Sediment Trapping Efficiency and Water Renewal Rate
Lago Cerrillos Drainage Area Sediment Yield and Reservoir Life Expectancy
Summary and Conclusions
References Cited

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