Thurmond Lake could reach full pool by mid-June for the first time in 3½ years, according to Army Corps of Engineers projections.
The lake has recovered steadily from last year’s drought, rising almost 15 feet from its 2012 low of 314.43 feet above sea level, recorded Dec. 10.
Thursday’s level was 329.24 – just 0.76 feet below full pool of 330 feet.
Corps spokesman Billy Birdwell said heavy rains in the corps’ Mobile District have allowed hydropower dams in that region to make more electricity than usual, allowing Savannah River lakes to operate with lower discharges.
“Since we are not in drought management operations, normally we would have a much higher discharge rate,” Birdwell said.
Full pool hasn’t been attained since Nov. 19, 2009, according to corps records.
The corps expects to continue to evaluate drought management options as it proceeds with the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study, launched in 2000 to provide research into ways to improve water management.
One facet will include evaluating potential changes in the full pool elevation level.
“We haven’t had an analysis done on the concept of raising that level permanently,” Birdwell said. “That is something we would look at once we get to that portion of the study. Remember, it is a comprehensive study, so we have to look at all aspects of the river’s flow.”