The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to modify its drought contingency plan by further reducing flows into the Savannah River during the most severe phases of drought.
The proposed change, up for public comment through July 14, would amend the operating plan for "Level IV" drought, which would occur if Thurmond Lake's pool level fell to 312 feet above sea level, or 18 feet below full pool.
Under the current drought plan, flows would be maintained at 3,600 cubic feet per second as long as possible during a Level IV drought.
The revision would allow those flows to be reduced to as little 3,100 cubic feet per second from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28, when cooler weather would partially offset the environmental harm from the lower flows.
"The proposed change will give us more flexibility to conserve the remaining water in the reservoirs without additional adverse impacts on the environment both upstream and downstream," said Col. Jeff Hall, the Savannah District commander.
Flows would be restored to 3,600 cubic feet per second, however, at the request of either Georgia or South Carolina, according to the proposal.
Although several cycles of drought have occurred during the past decade, the Savannah River reservoirs have never reached Level IV, corps spokesman Billy Birdwell said.
Comments on the proposal can be submitted electronically to CESAS-PD@usace.army.mil or by mail to Army Corps of Engineers, Attention: PD, Savan- nah District, P.O. Box 889, Savannah GA 31402-0889.