The Savannah River in Augusta fluctuated as much as seven feet from Friday to Monday, partly because a hardware failure that prevented the remote control operation of New Savannah Bluff Dam’s floodgates.
Scott Hyatt, the operations project manager at Thurmond Lake, said the gates at the small dam downstream from Augusta are normally controlled from the Thurmond Dam power plant.
“Last week we had a hardware failure, and the Thurmond power plant lost the ability to remotely operate those gates, so in order to move them we have to send someone down to the lock and dam to manually adjust them,” he said. “This didn’t have an impact until Friday night, when Thurmond stopped releasing a consistent amount of water 24 hours a day.
“Thurmond releases now change several times a day, leading to a need to adjust the gates at the New Savannah Bluff Dam as often as every three or four hours.”
Without remote control of the gates, the sporadic flows created tremendous swings in the Augusta pool, which dropped three feet, then jumped seven feet before falling again Monday.
A temporary fix was installed Tuesday afternoon, enabling the corps to restore remote gate operations until permanent repairs are made, Hyatt said.
Additional fluctuations are still possible, because flashboards that were removed during recent floods are still being reinstalled at South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.’s Stevens Creek Dam.
The metal-framed boards are mounted atop the dam with hinges that allow the devices to collapse – as a safety feature – during extremely heavy flows.
After all the flashboards are reinstalled, Stevens Creek Dam will again be able to re-regulate flows from Thurmond Dam to maintain a consistent flow entering the Augusta pool.