Don't misread drought plan

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Some of the online comments posted after the recent letter on the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mismanaging the lakes (“Corps not keeping lakes full,” Oct. 18) indicated that some people downstream of the dam misunderstand the drought plan proposed by lake stakeholders.

These proposals are as beneficial to the river as they are to the lakes. The reason is that the lakes are like a huge bank account that supplies water instead of money. If you take out more than you put in, both the lakes and river suffer from a bankrupted system.

Can you imagine what a dried-up river would do to industry, water quality, water supply, fish and wildlife? If you destroy the lakes, the river would dry up next.

As an example of the misunderstandings, one comment mentioned there is recreation on both sides of the dam, indicating that improved recreation for the lakes would be unfair to river recreation concerns.

Quite the contrary. The proposals by groups such as Save Our Lakes Now protect both sides of the dam and return fairness to the system. Not only would recreation be acceptable to both sides of the dam, but based on 12 consecutive months of operation in 2008, these release rates would be acceptable for all river stakeholders.

Save Our Lakes Now recognizes that no drought plan is acceptable unless it works for both sides of the dam.

Tommy A. Lee

Lincolnton

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 07:40 am
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When the releases were

When the releases were decreased in 2008 my cove on the river nearly dried up. Others all down the river and its tributaries such as Stevens Creek have the same problem when the flows are not adequate. Some say navigation on the lake is not safe when the level is down, but it's ten times worse on the river when the level is not adequate. The river is the navigable highway.

The river is dependent on adequate release from the lake. Oxygen content is affected by less water, also, and that affects aquatic life of all kinds. Many of us get our drinking water from the river while dumping our treated sewage into it. The folks down around Savannah also get their drinking water from the river and salt water intrusion due to decreased fresh water changes everything there. Deepening the harbor will require plentiful fresh water to offset the increase volume. Shellfish are dependent on fresh water on the coast.

Col. Kertis was a friend and I discussed the entire issue with him. He understood the limitations. The only time it makes sense to decrease flow from the dam is when there is plentiful rain between Thurmond and Stevens Creek dams. If you decrease flow because of rain south of Augusta, the portion of the river above the dam is affected.

I want our Congressmen and residents on both sides of the river to understand there are many people and much wildlife affected by decreased flows from the lake. The river was here first and a great portion of two states depend on it. I understand we are all hurting from the drought, but it will pass just like every weather cycle. It's not a time to be like a wild west movie fighting each other over a canteen of water in the desert.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 07:11 am
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By the way, by what stretch

By the way, by what stretch of the imagination do you believe the river will dry up without the dam? The river has been here for hundreds of thousands of years and isn't going anywhere unless it dries up due to lack of water being released.

JakeQ
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JakeQ 10/28/11 - 07:21 am
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I'd agree that any plan needs

I'd agree that any plan needs to work for both side, but I'm more of the opinion they need to make better use of long-term weather predictions.
I like the bank account analogy but with a bank account, you never have to let anything out. A lake has a top, if you don't eventually let out more than you take in, you go over the top. If you only let out what you take in, the weather effects are more extreme. I think this plan only provides a benefit during droughts, and in wetter times us downstream folks may be getting a little more water than we know what to do with.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/28/11 - 07:24 am
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My only question is: If they

My only question is: If they have determined that XXXX cu ft/sec is the minimum flow required to maintain downstream integrity, why in the H-E- double hockey sticks don't they keep it there 24/7/365 until the lake is at normal pool? Instead, they do these graduated reductions as the lake goes down, which is reactive, not proactive. The most you can hope for with that plan is that it doesn't go any lower.

JakeQ
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JakeQ 10/28/11 - 07:25 am
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@riverman1, I agree, and that

@riverman1, I agree, and that low slow river we had for a while really let the water weeds grow up.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 07:25 am
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Someone please tell the

Someone please tell the filter to let my detailed comment about the lake and river go.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 07:39 am
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The point about the river

The point about the river sometimes being too full is misunderstood. I've listened to hydrologists at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion Conference explain what happens. A natural river goes up and down creating a wet environment beneficial for all matter of things. The water is not soaked up as rapidly later.

Releasing water into "dry" banks of the river will soak up much more, decreasing the flow downstream. The Corp used a practice for awhile of flooding the river once a week for this exact reason.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/28/11 - 08:40 am
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Good Morning Riverman,

Good Morning Riverman, sending Sean an email entitled "Free my post" works well for me.

Riverman1
99673
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 08:52 am
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Hey Willow, well I got his

Hey Willow, well I got his attention. Crazy filter gets the most innocent posts.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/28/11 - 10:27 am
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So, RM; lets use some real

So, RM; lets use some real numbers for comparison, I'm confident you are close enough to that situation to know what they are.
What is flood stage? 8Kcfs or more?
Minimum to keep downstream intakes in the water? 3.5Kcfs or so?
Minimum you feel is needed to satisfy ALL of the downstream interests, including your own?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/28/11 - 11:18 am
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Vito, since you were so good

Vito, since you were so good about the NY Times link on the other story, just for you. This explains it well.
http://water.sas.usace.army.mil/home/indexDU.htm

Vito45
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Vito45 10/28/11 - 01:55 pm
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RM, at which of those

RM, at which of those decreased flows do you start seeing detrimental effects downstream? What I'm getting at is they have these tiered levels for reducing flows and I don't understand why they can't drop it to the lowest practical flow anytime the lake is below normal pool for that season. If there is drought, they are only chasing it as it goes down rather than preventing it from going farther.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/29/11 - 08:56 am
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Vito, those flows are the

Vito, those flows are the agreed upon flows calculated by the Corp, EPA, and various concerns around Savannah. The Corp has gone below those "legal" flows on occasions, but I and others have complained vociferously. Your question of detrimental effects is difficult to explain or to even understand, but much work and study has gone into developing these outflows to protect the cleanliness and oxygen levels with all that means. Salt water intrusion around in Savannah is a big problem for shell fish and for drinking water. The fresh water there is absolutely dependent on the outflow from Thurmond Dam.

Personally, I do see the river much lower which affects coves and shore line greatly. Keep in mind, the river needs high levels at times to maintain its character.

We also have two nuclear reactors that will come online below Augusta requiring and utilizing some of the water.

One other point, keep in mind for the lake there is a normal pool level and a full pool level. From your post, you understand that, but many don't. It was never intended to stay at full pool. Normal levels are normal levels. If you keep it at full pool and a heavy rain like in 1990 occurs, you have no protection. It eliminates any protection the dam offers if water flows over and around it.

This was actually a pretty good year for lake levels until a couple of months ago. One lady who lives at the lake was on here complimenting the Corp for its management saying her cove stayed pretty high. Really, it's just the doggone drought and it will pass and we will all be happy.

yu nah ee tah
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yu nah ee tah 11/02/11 - 05:47 pm
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Today I cut down pine trees

Today I cut down pine trees on the lake bed that have seen water once in ten years. Some were twelve to fourteen feet tall. This time looks like it was in 87-88 when the lake dropped and dropped and dropped. Does anyone remember late in the 1960's when the lake was lowered to make kilowatts to send north because of the brownouts in NYC? I do. Kilowatts are still the key. Remember July 2011 when the lake level tumbled? Killowatts to Cash. Riverman mentions Vogtle - how many killowatts does the dam get for an acre foot of water? Pittance compared to a nuke. If there is no water saved in the lakes, where will Vogtle 3 and 4 get water when the river is low? Build a weir like Hatch on the Altamaha? So many questions for the bean counters to go figure.

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