I read with disbelief the recent press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning its engineering decision to decrease release rates from Thurmond Dam. As an engineer, it was obvious to me that such a change should have been made nine months ago, not now. We even pleaded with the Corps to do so. Had it made this change then, the lakes would be full now.
The Corps claims it cannot change from the written drought plan. It has several responsibilities in controlling the basin – water quality and supply; fish and wildlife; recreation, flood control and navigation. It also is responsible for power, but that is simply an economic concern and automatically washes out when you look at the economics of lake levels vs. the cost of buying power off the grid.
If any of these other than recreation were involved, the Corps would make an immediate change based on the best information available. But the destruction of recreation – which occurs by their own admission when the lakes drop six feet – is ignored. The change we recommend would prevent destroying recreation and not harm the other concerns.
Just ask the Corps what stakeholder (business, water supplier, etc.) downstream of Thurmond Dam is asking for more water. All the stakeholders around the lake are screaming for their fair share of the water. The reason the lakes are draining is that the Corps insists on sending downstream more water than nature provides in rain.
(The writer is a spokesman for the group Save Our Lakes.)