Proposal to further reduce Savannah River flow rejected

Jim Blaylock/staff
Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 5:14 PM
Last updated Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 11:23 AM
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A proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to further reduce flows in the Savannah River – to the lowest levels in decades – has been rejected by state and federal natural resource agencies.

Thurmond Lake, currently more than 15 feet low, is managed under a drought plan in which flows are reduced incrementally as water levels fall.

The current flow, 3,100 cubic feet per second, is the lowest allowed unless the lake falls to 312 feet above sea level, when releases would be limited to inflows.

The corps considered a further reduction – to 2,800 cubic feet per second – that would be in place on an experimental basis for the first few weeks of winter, enabling scientists to evaluate any effects on downstream water users and the environment.

“We had proposed to resource agencies that we could gather a lot of data on what the impacts would be if we went down to 2,800,” said corps spokesman Billy Birdwell.

However, the U.S. Fish & Wild­life Service – which has perennial concerns about the Augusta shoals segment of the river – and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources rejected the idea with a “resounding no,” Birdwell said.

Had the change been affirmed, it would have been the first time releases had fallen below 3,100 cubic feet per second since the federal Drought Contingency Plan was approved in 1989, said Barb Shelley, a facilitator with the Friends of the Savan­nah River Basin stakeholder group.

The water management program for Thurmond Lake and the Savannah River downstream is based on “authorized purposes,” including flood-risk management, navigation, hydropower, recreation and fish and wildlife – in addition to providing drinking water and maintaining a river flow sufficient to assimilate treated industrial and municipal wastewater.

A full lake – with a pool of 330 feet above sea level – makes it possible to fulfill all those purposes. As water levels fall and flows into the river are reduced, water supply and water quality rise to the top of the priority list.

Augusta, North Augusta and Columbia County rely on the river as a drinking-water source and as a conduit for assimilation of treated wastewater. There are also nearly a dozen downstream industries, mostly in Richmond County, that use the river for process water or for waste assimilation, or both.

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Riverman1
90742
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Riverman1 12/22/12 - 12:27 pm
4
3
Thank Goodness

Thankfully, there are some who recognize the dangers to the river with reduced flow. The river is not an aluminum gutter where water flows down to the ocean. It is a fragile ecosystem, a community of living plants, animals and microbes dependent on the water of the river and its oxygen content.

In addition water content is important for groundwater recharge. In essence it’s not only the depth of the river, but the wetness of the soil adjoining the river...the banks and wetlands. It is also necessary for the river to flood its banks somewhat now and then. There used to be a policy of the Corp of Engineers to flood the river banks slightly every two weeks to simulate the natural occurrence, but in the misguided attempts to fill the lake this has been stopped.

With the start-up of two nuclear generators coming at Plant Vogtle consuming water and with Savannah Harbor being deepened, salt water intrusion around the Savannah estuary becomes more of a problem. The fresh water of the river is a necessary component of the brackish water spawning process.

blues550
380
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blues550 12/22/12 - 12:27 pm
0
0
Corps
Unpublished

The serious mismanagement of Clark Hill by the Corps has got to come to a halt. Sure miss Charlie Nowrood!

woodsman
6
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woodsman 12/22/12 - 12:37 pm
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2
Hogwash

The wackos are acting like drought has never occurred before, and without our management oversight, the creatures of the river and it's "fragile ecosystem" would what? die? suffer? BS - Every year Winter brings the most water that the river sees all year, and for once the Corp sees the light, that reducing flows now will facilitate filling that clay pit of a lake up. I noticed the 1989 date that we became subject to this stupid policy of flow per minute regulation, and ever since that lake has experienced record lows, when before 1989, there was no "damaged ecosystem" - Folks.... it's just a river - I own property on the river and spend a huge amount of time on it - Much more so than the lake, and I'm willing to sacrifice water levels, because I'm not a sucker for the environmental, self righteous HOGWASH of those who have taken control of our waterways. Write them letters folks

Riverman1
90742
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Riverman1 12/22/12 - 12:59 pm
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"Just a river."

"Just a river."

Then treat it like a river and not an aluminum gutter. Grasp the concept.

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 12/22/12 - 03:05 pm
5
1
In speaking with my older relatives

I was told BEFORE Clark Hill Dam and Lock & Dam
they use to walk across the river with only water up to their ankles or knees at several times during the year.

The original Natural environment was drought followed by flooding and etc. So The DNR and EPA argument about the need for regulated water flow to protect the natural river plants, fish, mussels and etc... is bogus.

The water is needed to run the Nuclear Plants down the river.

yu nah ee tah
31
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yu nah ee tah 12/22/12 - 04:11 pm
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0
I have lived on the lake for 30 years. I know a little about the

river at Plant Vogtle. The sheet piling for the river intake structure came from France, anybody else know that? Remember when the tug boat captain got to the barge unloading facility with the Unit 1 NSSS - after the Corps lowered the river so the tug boat could get under the 301 bridge? And then the Corps raised the river so the barge could float over the sand bars? How many hundred tons was that load?

I lived thru the 87-88 drought. If the lake drops to 312 - and I think it will and stay there - flows lower than the proposed 2800 cfs will be REQUIRED for some time. I think it very short sighted of those environmental types to poo poo a sound engineering test to see what might/will happen should these nature/management plan mandated low flows be required. If the test were allowed, we, including the environmental types, would know what to expect, like the tug boat Captain, capital C, when he tied up just downstream of the bridge and waited until what he had been told would happen to the river- happened. He got to Vogtle and he then got really drunk to celebrate. Ever had a Colt .45 pointed at you by a drunk sailor who was so proud of himself and proud of his boat and proud of his load that he knew, rightfully so, he deserved a drink? Sheriff John had to come and take him away, oh Sheriff John stay...

The river is predictable - IF, big if, we let the Corps truly manage the river. No one knows or recognizes the dangers the river with low flow. The river is indeed like an aluminum gutter, only with rough sides - in the olden days it was called "open channel flow" and highly predictable - if, again big if, engineers are allowed a little outdoor lab time - with a predictable controllable water flow , not at the whim of A-gi-do-da A-ga-sga and U-no-le .

Poo poo on the shortsighted environmental types. No guts, no glory.

itsanotherday1
47013
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itsanotherday1 12/23/12 - 12:06 am
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BINGO! Open Curtain. From an

BINGO! Open Curtain. From an environmental POV, everything survived just fine during droughts before the dam went up.

As for the harbor, it doesn't change it one whit; as the Atlantic ebb and flow control that level.

itsanotherday1
47013
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itsanotherday1 12/23/12 - 12:15 am
0
0
This is what burns my biscuits:

"Thurmond Lake, currently more than 15 feet low, is managed under a drought plan in which flows are reduced incrementally as water levels fall."

Stop this idiotic incremental flow adjustment, just manage it to a level. If we know downstream needs can be met at 3100, then leave it right there until the lake is FULL. If it drops a couple of feet below FULL (that is seasonally dependent-full might be 325 in anticipation of winter rain), then drop the outflow to 3100 immediately, not incrementally. If the outflows had been 3100 for the last few years that lake would be 10 feet deeper.

Riverman1
90742
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Riverman1 12/23/12 - 06:38 am
0
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Say There Was No Dam

What some miss is the wetness of the soil beside the river acting as a natural reservoir that also helps keep the oxygen level of the river up, helping aquatic and plant life. That’s why all rivers don’t simply empty out. It’s a dynamic, ongoing process of the wetlands and river banks providing a natural buffer.

No one is suggesting that the dam be torn down because it provides a needed function of flood control. But there is no doubt that no dam would mean a better recharged wetlands and more fresh water at Savannah preventing salt water intrusion. Again, the river is not a metal gutter.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 12/23/12 - 11:26 am
0
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We needed those bombs and the electricity
Unpublished

required to build same. What a failed effort at "leave it as you found it".
Flawed humans cannot see beyond the end of their noses and are too ignorant to guide their individual steps.
Some lakes in N. Georgia are completely dry at times. Some every year. It all boils down to "how does this effect ME". Upstream, downstream. It is like some bad old western movie with people dying over water rights and water flow.

Cause and effect. Cause and effect. Some dams have prevented floods. Others have cause massive floods, death and destruction. Damned if you do and damned if you do not.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 12/23/12 - 11:32 am
0
0
Some very intellectual minds think .....
Unpublished

it is a metal gutter with and unlimited supply of water. Build tow more nuclear reactors that have critical needs for cooling water. Continue urban sprawl with every home and business with irrigation systems that run day and night.

Travel some. Colorado and Arizona using brown water to irrigate their lawns. Breakfast with the fragrance of rotten eggs from the sprinklers.

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