Army Corps of Engineers developing drought contingency plan for Savannah River Basin

Army Corps of Engineers developing drought contingency plan for Savannah River Basin
Army Corps of Engineers developing drought contingency plan for Savannah River Basin

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF)- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a new plan to address how it handles droughts in the Savannah River Basin.

Homeowners have been complaining about low lake levels on Clarks Hill for year.

“We’ve never seen it so low,” said homeowner Jo Ann Skinner.

Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented a tentative plan to manage drought condition along the Savannah River Basin.

The goal is identifying the best management of water resources both upstream and downstream of Thurmond Dam.

“The alternative was easy to come up with, but to model it and to go through and analyze it…it’s been a year and a half to two year[s],” said Stan Simpson, who is a water manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps considered seven factors in its analysis: hydropower, recreation, environmental, estuary/harbor, water supply, navigation, and flood risk management.

But many homeowners along the lake are focused on recreation and their property value.

“If you look at it differently, you get different answers,” said Jerry Clontz of Save our Lakes Now. “To us, lake level is very important. To them, lake levels is a secondary concern.”

The proposed drought contingency plan would raise lake levels during droughts by restricting the water released from Thurmond Dam.

“When you have a drought, it has a big impact on a lot of different things…all our authorized project purposes,” Simpson said. “And so what we’re trying to do is keep more water in the pool and have less of an impact.”

It’s not clear by how much the plan would raise water levels.

“The lake level is definitely going to be higher with what they’re proposing, and we’d like to see it still higher than that,” Clontz said.

The tentative plan would not noticeably change the water level on the river between Augusta and North Augusta, according to Simpson.

The Corps is taking public comments on their proposal until 12 p.m. Thursday.

You can review their study here.

You can email your comments to CESAS-PD@usace.army.mil.

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