Drought-parched lake has risen nearly 7 feet since Dec. 31

Monday, March 4, 2013 2:53 PM
Last updated 9:07 PM
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Thurmond Lake continues to recover, with water levels rising 3 feet since mid-February.

Thurmond Lake's 6.81-foot recovery since the beginning of the year has refloated previously beached docks, such as this one in Columbia County's Leah community. The reservoir, however, remains more than seven feet below full pool.  ROB PAVEY/STAFF
ROB PAVEY/STAFF
Thurmond Lake's 6.81-foot recovery since the beginning of the year has refloated previously beached docks, such as this one in Columbia County's Leah community. The reservoir, however, remains more than seven feet below full pool.

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.

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itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 03/04/13 - 06:03 pm
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"Also, the Army Corps of

"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."

This just drives me insane. Why not leave it at 3100 until the lake fills to its seasonal full point? Because the book says so? Government bureaucratic idiocy at its finest!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/05/13 - 08:54 am
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The river is also dependent

The river is also dependent on periodic high levels to create the wet banks. The amount released has been studied in detail to keep the character of the water in the river adequate for downstream purposes and wildlife depending on the time of the year. That's why you can't simply lower the outflow from the lake without regards to downstream. Oxygen content is dependent on the water quanity and quality. Also, keep in mind, there is a difference in the average pool and full pool at the lake.

crackerjack
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crackerjack 03/05/13 - 08:55 am
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TreeHuggers

The Spring increase is caused by tree huggers in Savannah, whining about not enough water is being released for the spawning of the Atlantic Sturgeon.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 03/05/13 - 09:01 am
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Look at the plan. They

Look at the plan. They increased the flows BASED ON LAKE LEVEL.

Jane18
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Jane18 03/05/13 - 10:36 am
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Army Corps of Engineers.......

..............leave our lake alone! Do not tell us there has not been enough rain to help the Savannah River! We know the lake water only goes into the river for all those "homes on the river"! Leave the lake alone, and let us poor folks enjoy it!!!

dichotomy
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dichotomy 03/05/13 - 11:29 am
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I have always wondered why

I have always wondered why the Corps does not delay the increased releases until the river reaches average pool?

Starting increased releases at 322 is like driving a car across the desert until you are almost out of gas, finding a station, and only putting in 1/2 a tank before roaring off into the desert again. How stupid.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 03/05/13 - 01:24 pm
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Recreation, Drinking Water, Wastewater dilution and Industry

The Corps is trying to manage the water coming down the Savannah River basin from the North so they will always have to do a juggling act to try to please everyone. I would hate to have their job!

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 03/05/13 - 11:34 pm
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Sweet son

I would hate to have their job too as a government entity, because they mindlessly follow a plan to the letter with no common sense.

To increase the flow out of the lake based on its level is totally ignoring the rainfall in the CSRA, which drains directly into the Savannah River, increasing flows downstream.

They don't manage a blasted thing; they punch buttons by recipe.

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