Lake Release – October 26 Update




McCormick Drought Meeting

Thank you for attending the McCormick and/or Anderson Drought Meetings!  We appreciate the support, and as I told many of you, we do understand and feel the same pain/frustration during this drought!

Harry was in TX on business, so I called him right after the McCormick meeting and told him that I was impressed with your questions and the way they were asked.   I know many of you also spoke privately with members of the water management team, as well as Colonel Hall.  He did tell me if there anymore future questions, to please make sure they are forwarded to his staff, so feel free to send them to us or directly to the Corps.  As you know, I push for communication, and I have to admit they did their homework this time!!

Most of those present at the McCormick meeting said it was very informative.  A few of you noted that you felt that there was more empathy shown to the Lake users at this meeting. I was pleased that Colonel Hall addressed the concerns we sent to him.  They had obviously taken some real time to prepare slides that helped to illustrate his report.   Colonel Hall and Todd Hammill (NWS) both explained why, when it does rain in the summer, we do not see the lakes rise.

At the McCormick Drought meeting (Oct 24), Colonel Hall, Commander of the Savannah District Army Corps of Engineers, shared the following:

With a “normal winter” predicted, the lakes will begin to fill back up. (They were guardedly optimistic on the weather!)    The Colonel announced  that he will refill the lakes above the winter drawdown to full pool.  (That will be 330ft-msl for Thurmond and 660ft-msl for Hartwell).  The lakes are normally drawn down four feet in the winter, so what he is saying is they will not stop at the guide curve (four feet down) , but let them fill to the summer full pool.

That was unexpected good news!  With the summer and heat over, the evaporation rate is much less, which will allow for a gradual refill, once the ground becomes saturated and allows for run off.  He also announced that he is seeking resource agency concurrence to hold 3800cfs during the refill. Only time will tell if we get the normal rains.

Colonel Hall also reported that SC had found a way to fund their portion of the second part of the  Comprehensive Study.  There was an organizational meeting with SC, GA, TNC and the ACOE on Monday, Oct 22 to outline the funding and goals.  Approval of having the The Nature Conservancy (TNC) involved to help alleviate the cost burden of the states has been sought by the Corps Division.   Eric Krueger (TNC) and David Baise (SC DHEC) attended the Monday meeting and were at McCormick.    I asked them for their reaction to the Monday meeting, and both responded that it was a good meeting, and they would keep the users informed of the progress.  Colonel Hall joined us when we were talking between the presentations and he, also, sounded optimistic.  This was the first time in a few years, that I heard positive comments on the study.. things may be looking up!!

Within the next week or so, it is predicted that the Lakes will reach Level III which means the Water Management team can begin to lower flows.  If the Broad River 28-day average streamflow shows less than 10 percent of historical averages, the flows will be gradually lowered to 3100cfs and remain at that rate until the end of January.  There is an option to extend this to the end of February with approval of the National Marine fisheries Service.  As I noted above, if the resource agencies agree, the flows will not go over 3800cfs until the lakes refill.

Something I never saw before was the list of authorized purposes showing differences between each for various levels of drought.  I have typed the purposes using the charts Colonel Hall presented.

Flood Management (Hartwell & Thurmond)

·         Flood Risk Management, Navigation, Hydropower, Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, Water Quality, Water Supply

Normal Operation (non-Drought)

·         Hydropower, Flood Risk Management, Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, Water Quality, Water Supply, Navigation

During Level One (Four Feet down)

·         Recreation, Water Quality, Water Supply, Fish and Wildlife, Hydropower, Flood Risk Management, Navigation

During Level Two (Six Feet Down)

·         Water Quality, Water Supply, Fish and Wildlife, Recreation, Hydropower, Flood Risk Management, Navigation

During Level Three (Fourteen Feet Down)

Water Supply, Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife, Recreation, Hydropower, Flood Risk Management, Navigation

During Level IV (Conservation Pools exhausted at Thurmond & Hartwell)

·         Water Supply, Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife

Many of you asked about how to access Todd Hammill’s weather site.  The URL is

Like you, when I got home and looked at my notes and examined the slides from the presentation, I start to have more questions.  We will compile them and send them in.  If you have any that you would like us to include, please let us know.  The more informed we all are, the better our understanding!

Although, we feel like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, we have to be careful when dealing with predictions.  Here is a fine example!  Harry just walked in a showed me a weather chart showing Sandy’s predicted path of rain.  It literally runs up the right side of the basin.. totally missing our drainage areas!











Compiled by Barb and Harry Shelley
Friends of the Savannah River Basin

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