Corps to further lower Lake Hartwell

There are 26 comments on the The Greenville News story from Oct 6, 2006, titled Corps to further lower Lake Hartwell. In it, The Greenville News reports that:

Boaters on Lake Hartwell are being urged to continue to use extra caution in the coming weeks as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers further lowers the already low water level.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Greenville News.

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wayne thompson

United States

#1 Oct 11, 2006
how can a 4"deficit in rainfall equal a 9ft drop in water level at hartwell? why do you keep russell at full pool and hartwell and thurmond are so low? I drive by russell every week and see the water level right up to the tree shoreline. a bowl is a bowl and water seeks it's lowest level, please don't insult me by saying russel's "configuration" makes it hold the water. you control the dams and these control the water!! both thurmond and hartwell have many residents who's docks and boats are now on mud while russell, with no residents, has a full pool. makes no sense at all. it was just as hot and just as dry last summer and I had 6 ft of water under my dock in August. this year, I have mud. please give me an explanation I can understand.
Scott M

Atlanta, GA

#2 Dec 19, 2006
Agreed on the levels at Hartwell.I do not have a cure for that but do have a prevention, in many cases, for
"residents who's docks and boats are now on mud " . Check out this free service that just came online in lieu of the low levels. http://lakelevelalert.com . Pretty cool site and easy to use. Sends out automated email alerts when the water on your lake reached high or low points that you determine. Hope this helps the mud dwellers. Pray for rain!
Joe Sikes Townville SC

United States

#3 Jul 24, 2008
Could someone explain why we can get an inch of rain and the lake level still drops. I feel the Corp is more interested in making money than keeping people happy. We sould all get a rebate on dock permit fees for the time our docks sit on the ground. Also we sould be taxed as reguler property and not lakefront property.
Billy-COE

Fort Huachuca, AZ

#4 Jul 31, 2008
I can explain this: An inch of rain in one location does not mean an inch of rain all over the reservoir. Also, because the ground is SO DRY, much of the rain soaks into the dirt and doesn't run off into the reservoir.
Joe Sikes Townville SC wrote:
Could someone explain why we can get an inch of rain and the lake level still drops. I feel the Corp is more interested in making money than keeping people happy. We sould all get a rebate on dock permit fees for the time our docks sit on the ground. Also we sould be taxed as reguler property and not lakefront property.
Billy-COE

Fort Huachuca, AZ

#5 Jul 31, 2008
I don't mean to insult you, but the fact is this: the reservoir at Lake Russell is designed to have a shallow usable pool. There is only a five-foot fluctuation above or below the "full pool" level at Lake Russell. This is based on the size of the dam and its precise location on the river.

Lake Hartwell (and Lake Thurmond) will continue to fall until this drought is over. Users of both reservoirs should be prepared for this. It has NOTHING to do with power generation or construction of mega-ramps, or construction on I-85. It is solely related to the lack of rain. Until the drought is over and significant rain falls, the reservoir levels will not return to normal.
-- Billy Birdwell with the Corps of Engineers in Savannah
wayne thompson wrote:
how can a 4"deficit in rainfall equal a 9ft drop in water level at hartwell? why do you keep russell at full pool and hartwell and thurmond are so low? I drive by russell every week and see the water level right up to the tree shoreline. a bowl is a bowl and water seeks it's lowest level, please don't insult me by saying russel's "configuration" makes it hold the water. you control the dams and these control the water!! both thurmond and hartwell have many residents who's docks and boats are now on mud while russell, with no residents, has a full pool. makes no sense at all. it was just as hot and just as dry last summer and I had 6 ft of water under my dock in August. this year, I have mud. please give me an explanation I can understand.
Lisa Kishoni

Atlanta, GA

#6 Aug 17, 2008
The Corps is not our enemy. We need to work together so that future droughts can be managed in a way that has the least effect on all stakeholders. The Savannah River Basin is an irreplaceable resource for South Carolina and Georgia and water is a precious commodity. I hope in the future the federal government realizes that the system is being overburdened and hydroelectric power is no longer generated except to meet the needs of the downriver stakeholders and to ensure against flooding. Asking this system to provide enough water for hydropower at the Lake Hartwell, nuclear power at the river in Waynesboro and all the municipal and private water usage along the way, while still protecting the ecology of the river, it's all just way too much in an era that will be drought prone. What worked in the past will not work in our dryer future, that has been proven the last three years.
tim warren

Lawrenceville, GA

#7 Aug 21, 2008
lake hartwell home owner...as in the early 80's and 2001 the water will go down and back up....there is nothing anybody can do about this....it will be back.....it is good time to put down rock and other shoreline jobs..
Kenny Golightly

Booker, TX

#8 Sep 6, 2008
Mr. Birdwell with the Corp seems a little defensive. After the dam completion how is it that in a 13 month period from February '61 through March '62 Lake Hartwell was brought to full pool with approximately 82 inches of rainfall and during the same period from 2006 to 2007 we are unable to maintain anything close to full pool with almost 47 inches of rainfall in the basin? Did the Savannah River below the dam go dry during those 13 months years? I don't think so. What were the guidelines for water usage then versus now? These statistics come directly from the Corps website. Someone is either not asking the right questions or someone else is refusing to give the true answers. I have been using this reservior since 1964 and would like to see it where it should be....full! Yes, I know we have had a dought. Please don't plague me with that subject. This is about resource management!! What worked yesterday doesn't necesarily work today. Wake up your elected officials to the fact there may be something they can do! This is an election year....they may listen!
Lisa Kishoni

Atlanta, GA

#9 Sep 29, 2008
When the lake filled up, there were fewer downstream users and probably none that required and were mandated to have 3600 cfs in flow from the river. When development along the river occurred, permits were given to stakeholders downstream that basically guaranteed a minimum flow of 3600 cfs. One of the biggest reasons we have to release so much now is to keep those stakeholders in business -- such as Plant Vogel, which uses the River's water for it's cooling towers. Plant Vogtle is currently in the permitting process to add to more reactors. Let's hope the Corps has the best interest of the Basin in mind when giving their input into the feasibility of two more reactors, and what exact water commitments will be required by our reservoirs for the additional reactors.
Kenny Golightly wrote:
Mr. Birdwell with the Corp seems a little defensive. After the dam completion how is it that in a 13 month period from February '61 through March '62 Lake Hartwell was brought to full pool with approximately 82 inches of rainfall and during the same period from 2006 to 2007 we are unable to maintain anything close to full pool with almost 47 inches of rainfall in the basin? Did the Savannah River below the dam go dry during those 13 months years? I don't think so. What were the guidelines for water usage then versus now? These statistics come directly from the Corps website. Someone is either not asking the right questions or someone else is refusing to give the true answers. I have been using this reservior since 1964 and would like to see it where it should be....full! Yes, I know we have had a dought. Please don't plague me with that subject. This is about resource management!! What worked yesterday doesn't necesarily work today. Wake up your elected officials to the fact there may be something they can do! This is an election year....they may listen!
Dan Garland

United States

#10 Oct 20, 2008
I understand that GA and SC are required to send water down the river. And I understand it has not been raining. These two points validate why the lake is down. The main point is the current lake level when inflow = outflow is 620'!!!
My point is we should move that level to 650'.
The families that are on the lake bought land on the lake to be used as waterfront rather than mud front.
I like the point someone listed above. We should argue the taxes for waterfront should not be as high as they have been in the past.
The CORP (and the drought) is killing the local economy. Lake Hartwell is known as a "LAKE". And "LAKES" have water in them. Rivers have water that flows through them.
I will get off my soap box. But before I go, since the Corp is lowering the outflow; will they continue the low outflow till the lake is full? Or will they change it back to the 3800 when they feel like it? What is the plan to fill up the lake. The wait till it rains plan is not working.
Jen Krause

Baltimore, MD

#12 Dec 1, 2008
Most of us understand that Russell is a shallower lake and has never been intended to have the fluctuations the other two lakes have. I take issue; however, with the rainfall amount and how it is interpreted. I have a database of rainfall and lake levels that goes back over 60 years. The average rainfall for the year is 47", not 50" and a fluctuation of + or - 6" is "normal". We have had "normal" rainfall in 2008. The ground may be dry but it cannot be much more dry than it has been for the past 60 years with the same range of rainfall. Thurmond Lake levels have been consistently 1st thru 4th for all time minimums. Rainfall is NOT consistent with the EXTENT of the drawdown. The lake levels should be down but not this much.

Having said that, I would like to provide some opposing information - rainfall "upstream" is the real issue. We may be receiving normal amounts now at Thurmond, but what is happening in the mountains and throughout the areas where Savannah River tributaries exist is what limits the water in the lakes.

Still, it does NOT warrant the drawdown we are experiencing.
Alan Adams Martin Ga

Deerfield Beach, FL

#13 Dec 11, 2008
I spoke to corps officials recently because I submitted 2 steam filled emails to some important guy who had his subordinate return a call to me. Basically, I was told that they are releasing less water down stream but when they do actually release, they go ahead and try to be as efficient as possible and generate power at the same time. Secondly, the Savannah basin is a major source of fresh water and the lower it gets, the greater chance of salwater intrusion from the ocean. Not good either. Listen, I havent had water at my dock since 650. I agree with the other comment about giving us land owners a break on our property taxes during this time as my 400k home wont fetch 200 currently. Beleive me, I've tried.
Evans

Anderson, SC

#14 Dec 15, 2008
Well lets take a look at Lake Thermon, we're down 23 ft and they're down 2. During that last rain we got my friend drove past the Hartwell dam and saw them EMPTYING water during the whole rain. The levels themselves should be an indecation that something is amiss with the Corp.
Billy-COE wrote:
I don't mean to insult you, but the fact is this: the reservoir at Lake Russell is designed to have a shallow usable pool. There is only a five-foot fluctuation above or below the "full pool" level at Lake Russell. This is based on the size of the dam and its precise location on the river.
Lake Hartwell (and Lake Thurmond) will continue to fall until this drought is over. Users of both reservoirs should be prepared for this. It has NOTHING to do with power generation or construction of mega-ramps, or construction on I-85. It is solely related to the lack of rain. Until the drought is over and significant rain falls, the reservoir levels will not return to normal.
-- Billy Birdwell with the Corps of Engineers in Savannah
<quoted text>
Lew - Atlanta

Atlanta, GA

#15 Jan 4, 2009
I bought lakefront property in 2006 for about $300,000. The house / property is now practically worthless because of what has happened with lake levels. Thousands of people on Hartwell surely are suffering the same fate. What's worse - I cannot even USE the property for the reason I bought it - the LAKE! With property values so brutally affected by this dilemma, the time for complaining and explanations as to why the lake just won't fill up - despite the recent rains - are over. Now it's time for action. Does anyone have ideas for action & where to go first to CHANGE what's happening with respect to the ridiculous lake level management?
dodom

Blairsville, GA

#16 Jan 25, 2009
The recent rise in lake levels, due in good part to the corps's reducing Hartwell and Thurmond outflows, indicates what is possible with a bit of intelligent deviation from the "plan". It also shows that downstream users are able to share the pain and get by with less.
Competition for river basin water is not going to abate. Local politicians and developers will gladly sell our long term basin health for short term gain. Every new increase in water demand downstream from Thurmond should be examined in terms using it and returning it, and sharing an average output that is more representative of what we have experienced the last 4 years.
Ultimately, the name of the game is money and votes. If property owners and local communities don't get together and pool our influence, we won't get heard until real estate prices crash and local communities collapse.
D-Mac Danielsville

Crandall, GA

#17 Feb 18, 2009
I lease land on the Hudson river between Franklin and Madison counties and during the recent rains we have gotten the river has come up and is flowing much better than it has in a while. This river drains to the broad and flows to Thurmond. When I stand on the banks and look at so much flow then I want to know where in the world is it going when it hits the lake. Why is the lake dropping ? Folks this water is going somewhere.
D Campbell

Buford, GA

#18 Feb 22, 2009
I would like to knowe who pockets the money for the electric generation? This seems to be the common thread for all things. Follow the money. Regardless, who ever is making the decisions about lake levels could care less about home owners and the businesses that need the lake to be full.
Chris - Fair Play

Eatonton, GA

#19 Feb 25, 2009
there is no doubt that the Corp can fix the level on Hartwell in a week if they chose to do so..

by dropping the outflow at Thurmond to 3100 they brought the level up nearly 10 feet in a month..

Now, even though we are getting steady rain all across the basin and north of it, they have gone back to the standard outflow levels and guess what? the level is dropping again.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

Clearly someone with more political clout than anyone on Hartwell is pulling the strings here.

It has nothing to do with the drought and everything to do with the politics.

Fire all those bums.
Kenny Golightly

Alto, GA

#20 Mar 2, 2009
Since Friday we have received more than 3 1/2 inches of much needed rain in the Hartwell Watershed, yet today they have started dropping the lake level and letting the beneficial rainfall go downstream where the watershed below Hartwell had similar rainfall numbers. What is going on?
Lisa Kishoni

Atlanta, GA

#21 Apr 17, 2009
Even with lake levels rising due to plentiful spring rainfall, we must remember that we are still subject to the Corps Drought Contingency Plan. Until that is updated, our lake is in jeapordy. The Lake Hartwell 660 Coalition is a new lake advocacy group which will work to make sure stakeholders at the Hartwell Project are represented with regard to lake levels during drought. Please come to our initial meeting, Saturday, May 9, 2009, 10AM-12:00 PM, Hart County High School Fine Arts Center, Hartwell, GA.

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