Water rises to summer levels

Thurmond Lake rose to its highest levels since July after flows through the dam were halted over the weekend to concentrate the effect of heavy rains.

"The bottom line is that this gained the system about a half foot, just from bringing discharges to zero," said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Billy Birdwell. "That does not count the continuing inflows, just the amount saved from outflows."

The rainfall, combined with the elimination of all flows through the dam, allowed the lake's pool to rise more than 2.5 feet -- from 316.15 feet above sea level Saturday to 318.7 on Monday.

The lake has not been that full since July 15, 2008, when the pool level was at 318.6, according to corps records. Full pool is 330 feet above sea level.

Mr. Birdwell said the dam, which was shut down Sunday, will remain closed through today. Releases of 3,600 cubic feet per second will resume Wednesday.

In recent weeks, residents, real estate developers, marina operators and others have campaigned for more reactive management programs that could help refill the reservoir -- or at least slow its decline during drought.

Limiting releases from the dam whenever there is adequate rainfall to keep the river full downstream is one such effort.

Heavy rains below the dam have provided ample water in the river to satisfy industries and municipalities.

According to Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker, as much as 4.7 inches of rain fell in portions of Columbia County during the weekend.

"We had a total reading in Walnut Hill (Evans) of 4.46 inches from 7 a.m. Friday to 6:30 p.m. Sunday," she said, and estimates of rainfall at the Clarks Hill drinking water plant near Pollards Corner totaled about 4.7 inches.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.