Monday’s pool level – 322.28 feet above sea level – reflects a 6.81-foot gain since Dec. 31, when the reservoir’s pool level was 315.45.
Also, the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing more water downstream, having increased flows from 3,100 to 4,000 cubic feet per second on Feb. 1.
The flows, computed as a weekly average, were increased based on seasonal rules in the corps’ Drought Management Plan.
Although the recovery is encouraging and has rendered many closed-down boat ramps usable again, the newest 10-week projections call for two more feet of elevation gain by late May, meaning the lake might not completely refill this summer without exceptional and unforeseen rainfall.
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.