Originally created 12/15/06

Corps predicts Thurmond Lake level will rise



By springtime at Thurmond Lake, docks will be floating and boaters can rest assured they won't be scraping their motors on the bottom - just as long as Mother Nature does her part.

If rain predictions hold true, the lake should return to full pool by recreation season's kickoff on Memorial Day, U.S. Army Col. Mark Held said Thursday night.

The commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District spoke at a meeting aimed at addressing concerns about the low water level at Thurmond Lake brought on by drought.

Dealing with an eight-foot deficit, many homeowners have seen their docks beached and have grown nervous about whether their backyards, as one homeowner puts it, will continue to grow.

"My land has grown quite a bit," said Sadie Bentley, 72, a homeowner in the Keg Creek area of Thurmond Lake.

She said the sight of her dock resting on the shore is sickening. But having lived and camped on the lake since the early 1960s, Ms. Bentley said she understands there is only so much the corps can do.

"It's an act of God how much water we get," she said.

Corps officials outlined their strategy to restore the lake's level Thursday night. The plan tries to balance the multitude of competing water needs along the Savannah River, which include recreation, fishing, industrial, and power interests.

Col. Held sternly told residents and fishers that he would stick to the plan and not be swayed by any single party - not by them or by groups like the Southeastern Power Administration, whose power needs are often at the center of conspiracy theories about the amount of water let through the dam.

"I don't prioritize anybody," he said. "And boy I'd like to, because there is going to be times that there's going to be a fishing tournament and I'd like to help.

"But I don't know how I do that without... making everybody mad."

Reach Justin Boron at (706) 823-3215 or justin.boron@augustachronicle.com.