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by Jay Hufnagel

Here is an email that I received from Jerry Clontz, spokesman for Save Our Lakes Now. Currently, we're about 10.5 feet down from full pool. I really don't understand why the Corps would want to release more water before the lakes have a chance to fill up. To me, it makes more sense to take advantage of the rain we've had, and keep the releases low to get the lake to full pool.  If you're a Lake Hartwell Real Estate homeowner or have an active interest in the lake, please contact one or more of the Government representatives listed below.

The Corps shows they plan to increase release rates on Lake Thurmond to from 3100cfs  to 3800 in mid February and 4,000 at the end of February.  With the lakes as low as they are and no guarantee we will be able to refill by start of the summer this is crazy.  In the past we had a very poor drought plan but at least it kept the release rates at 3600cfs until the lakes refill.  Why for heaven's sake would you want to make the plan worse by going to higher release rates.

There is absolutely no justification for such a move.  3600 cfs has been demonstrated over and over to be satisfactory downstream.  Every 100cfs over 3600 is a foot of lake level in a year.  If we go to 4000 from now to june the lake will be 2ft lower going into the summer and 4ft lower this time next year.

Please call or write the Colonel and your congressman and senators on this immediately.  The email addresses of the congressmen and senators we have been in contact with on lake levels is

Jim Demint by way of Danielle Gibbs at

Jeff Duncan by way of Janice McCord at

Paul Broun by way of Jordan Chinouth at

 And the Colonel's email is: Colonel Jeffery Hall at  

Jerry Clontz, spokesman for Save Our Lakes Now


by Jay Hufnagel

Here's an interesting email that I received from Save Our Lakes Now concerning the lake levels and flow from Lake Hartwell and Thurmond:

The Corps is proudly announcing that they plan to go to 3100cfs release rate out of Thurmond shortly when the lake hits 14' below full pool. This is fine compared to any other options we have now but this is a real miscarriage of their responsibilities if you look at what they have allowed to happen.  In order to keep our lakes at reasonable levels the Corps needs to drop release rates to 3600 cfs (3100 in winter months) anytime the lakes are 2' below full pool.  Instead the Corps is waiting until the lakes are down over 14' and virtually destroyed before they do this.

The argument the Corps keeps giving is that people downstream would be hurt unnecessarily if the rates were decreased before now.  Not true.  Not one single stakeholder on the river had problems with operation at 3600cfs for over 12 consecutive months in the drought of 2008-9.  The only people who complained were environmental groups expressing concern that problems MIGHT occur at this low a flow to the river. 

There are a number of very strong arguments to counter holding flows up because they MIGHT be a problem. 

  1. If a REAL problem occurs the release rates can be increased when that happens
  2. Nature only provides 3600cfs input averaged over a year so anything higher than that is man trying to one up Nature. Man just isn't that smart.  Smoothing out flooding and the severity of the driest parts of droughts makes sense but trying to generate water out of thin air does not.
  3. Water is one of our most precious commodities.  It ranks right up there with air.  Deliberately throwing fresh water away by releasing more to the ocean than nature does is criminal and needs to stop.

These challenges are taken care of by simply dropping releases to 3600cfs (3100 in winter months) whenever the lakes are down 2'.  No more water is going to the ocean than nature requires.  No one is harmed downstream based on past experience.  And true balance between the lakes and the river is achieved (i.e. neither the river nor the lakes are getting more water than the other).


by Jay Hufnagel

Save our Lakes Now (an Organization dedicated to preserving Lake Hartwell and it's water level) recently sent out the following email asking for help. If you own Lake Hartwell Real Estate or enjoy it on occasions, I think you'll agree it makes sense.

Save Our Lakes Now Position on New Drought EA

The Corps of Engineers has issued an EA for comment concerning the drought control plan for Lakes Thurmond and Hartwell. The new proposal represents a definite improvement over the past drought plan but falls well short of the drought plan proposed by Save Our Lakes Now and other lake groups over a year ago. Comments are requested prior to May 12th and we recommend all stakeholders around the lakes send in their personal comments. The way the Corps' proposal compares to the one proposed by Save Our Lakes Now and other lake groups over a year ago is summarized below.

Save Our Lakes Now proposed that release rates from Lake Thurmond be reduced to 3600cfs whenever the lake levels drop 2ft below full pool. The basis for the 3600cfs figure is two fold. First it matches the annual rate of rainfall during the droughts of record which means the lakes would be able to withstand the drought of record regardless of how long it may go on. Second it matches the release rates demonstrated to be acceptable to all stakeholders downstream of Thurmond Dam during the drought of 2008.

The New Corps proposal waits until the lakes are down 4ft before starting reduced flows the same as in the past. The Corps proposal then decreases release rates 200cfs (compared to the current drought plan) at each trigger level. The different trigger levels are 4' below full pool, 6' below full pool and 14' below full pool. These rates, while a step in the right direction, only increase the resulting lake level 2ft in a year above the current drought plan (each 100 cfs in release rate represents 1ft of lake level in a year). For example we would have ended up in 2008 at 316' instead of 314'. While this is a definite improvement it is not nearly as good as holding the total drop to 8' the way our proposal does and it leaves us open to the possibility of totally destroying the lakes if the drought goes on longer than in 2008.

Additionally the EA proposes further reductions November through January of 200 cfs at trigger level 2 and 500 cfs at trigger level 3. The proposals from lake groups included a 500cfs drop below the 3600cfs release rate during winter months. So again while the Corps proposal is in the right direction it is not as good as what was proposed by the lake groups over a year ago.

One additonal proposal Save Our Lakes Now recommends for drought control is to completely stop releases from Thurmond dam anytime the river below the dams is swollen from rains during a drought.

The actual Corps publication on the proposed EA is at .
Comments can be submitted via e-mail to:

The official comments from Save Our Lakes Now will be as follows:
We have reviewed the proposals in the draft EA on the Savannah River Basin Drought Plan and we see it as a definite improvement over the current drought plan. However we feel a more agressive approach should be used to maintain lake levels. We continue to recommend that the release rates from Thurmond Dam be reduced to 3600cfs whenever Lake Thurmond is below 328' until the lake refills. And we further recommend releases be reduced to 3100cfs during winter months anytime Lake Thurmond is below 328'. Furthermore we recommend releases from Thurmond Dam be completely stopped during a drought anytime the river is swollen from rains so as to maximize the rate the lakes regain normal levels. 



by Jay Hufnagel

I received the following email this morning from the "Save Our Lakes Now" organization. If you're a stakeholder in Lake Hartwell Real Estate or just enjoy the lake, joining this cause could make a difference.


When trying to fight city hall you often feel nothing will ever come of your efforts. This is doubly true when you are up against federal regulations, environmental concerns, claims of selfishly wanting lake level at the expense of everyone downstream, and entrenched practices of the Corps of Engineers. But we are making progress. It's been slower than we would like but the ice is melting and real progress could well be just around the corner. The Corps is even planning a near term change to the drought plan using an EA which is what we have been pleading for for several years.

A year or so back our proposals for improved drought plans were met with numerous road blocks:
1) SEPA would never permit due to contracts on power production
2) Short Nosed Sturgeon spawning grounds would be destroyed
3) Dissolved Oxygen in the harbor would be impacted
4) Many of the industrial concerns downstream would suffer severe harm
5) The lakes would not be experiencing their fair share of problems during a drought
6) The economic effects of low lake levels are insignificant
7) Wildlife and Fisheries in Athens would never permit such a change
8) Congress would never permit such changes
9) Money from the states was needed to fund a phase 2 study

One by one each has been eliminated. None of these were valid reasons to not change our drought plan. Basically we became a fact finding organization and literally met with the groups the Corps claimed were preventing them from adopting our proposals. It turns out in the final analysis that the Corps can make such changes at their discretion provided an Environmental Assessment is made.
Billboard Purchased by SOLN
It has taken many hours of sitting down with the various parties involved to get their reasoning on the table. And it has taken publicizing our plight. Several newspapers, The Austin Rhodes Show (WGAC), our blogs etc. have finally penetrated the 
protective fog that once surrounded Corps decisions. We even put up a billboard and held a protest demonstration at Thurmond Dam. In the past 3 months we have visited Jeff Duncan, and Jim DeMint and continued communication with Paul Broun for assistance from our national Congressmen and Senators and Shane Massey for help at the State Senate level. We are presently visiting the various County Councils around the Lakes of the Savannah River Basin and plans are in progress to meet with the Governors of both GA and SC.

All this takes time and money. Up till now only a few people have been responsible for the work and funding. Save Our Lakes Now is seeking a larger working base to make things happen more quickly and to make sure we never slip back into the horrible lake levels experienced in past droughts. If you can help with your time, money, or both please come join our effort. Details are available at


Lake Hartwell "out of balance" with Lake Thurmond

by Jay Hufnagel
Yesterday I attended a Western Upstate Association of REALTOR luncheon at the Keowee Key Country Club. Sandy Campbell, Chief Ranger, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was our guest speaker. Sandy’s topic was the “State of the Lake”. She started the presentation with, “we are our own worst enemy … we don’t do a good enough job telling people what we do”. I think the majority of the attendees agreed with her.
Overall, Sandy did a great job with her presentation. Here are a few highlights:
-         Currently Lake Hartwell is out of balance with Lake Thurmond, therefore the Corps will “turn off the spigot” (reduce the outflow) from Hartwell until both lakes are balanced. Sandy’s explanation was that happened because the lower part of the Savannah River Basin received more rain and run-off then what Hartwell received. Something she said that surprised me was that the rain that falls in Anderson runs off into Lake Russell, not Lake Hartwell. The drainage basins that flow into the different lakes consist of the following: Hartwell 2088 square miles, Russell 2837 square miles, and Thurmond 6144 square miles. As you can see, there’s not as much drainage that flows into Hartwell as what people assume.
-         The Corps are in an “adaptive management” mode. Sandy said that in the future they’re not going to take the lake down 4’ in the winter like they have in the past. She’s not sure what level will be set yet.
-         When Lake Hartwell and Thurmond are at least 15’ below full pool Lake Thurmond needs a higher percentage of water, therefore they accelerate the outflow of water from Hartwell. As of yesterday, Lake Hartwell was at 647.87 msl (mean sea level). New projections indicate that Hartwell could be at 651.4 msl by May 16, 2009. That’s about 6 inches lower then last year. Full Pool is 660 msl. Sandy made a comment, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t control the rainfall”. She also added, “God can do anything”.  
-         Every Wednesday new lake level projections are posted on the Corps website.
I asked three questions at the meeting:
  1. She mentioned that the Corps needed to improve their communication. I asked what they’re doing to address that. She explained that they periodically send out information to lake property owners. More needs to be done.
  2. How will the reactor additions at Plant Vogtle affect the water level on Lake Hartwell? Sandy didn’t have a very good answer for this question. She commented that there are still reviews being done by different entities on those plans. She suggested that concerned citizens write and comment to their representatives (see my earlier blogs on Save our Lakes Now and Plant Vogtle).
  3. I asked: who are the Corps representatives that have the day to day “spigot” control over the water flows? She stated that Stanley (Stan) Simpson and Jason Ward have that responsibility.
Overall, I feel that this was one of the better Corps meetings that I’ve attended. One thing is obvious, people and especially stakeholders need to become more active and voice their opinion to leaders and decision makers. I urge everyone concerned with the lakes of the Savannah River basin to contact their State and Federal representatives and let them know your concern. Go to the Save our Lakes Now website for a list of contacts. Jessica Sibley from the Daily Journal was at the meeting to take notes (read her story, "Good News, bad news for lake Hartwell"). You can find her articles and others at . Here are two recent articles on rising waters and tweaking lake levels.
By Jay Hufnagel, Keller Williams Realty,, , 864-287-7530.

Lake Hartwell 2008 Real Estate Sales

by Jay Hufnagel
Wow! Have you been watching the lake level since we’ve had some rain in the last few weeks? In September, Larry Orr from the US Army Corps of Engineers, said that "if we didn’t have much rain that the lake could be down 28 feet or more". As of the newspaper today, January 7, 2009, the lake is down only 18 feet and probably will improve by a couple more feet within the next week. As lake property owners and stakeholders, we shouldn’t let our guard down. I urge you to stay in touch with the “Save Our Lakes Now” program, and notify our government leaders and the US Army Corps of Engineers that we want more attention and focus on getting and keeping our lake to full pool. Juan Brown wrote an interesting special column in the Anderson Independent Mail, January 4, 2009, When lakes reach full pool again, what then? I urge you to read it.
Here are statistics for the 2008 “waterfront” Real Estate activity on Lake Hartwell. This list does not include condos and townhomes (Based on information from the SC Western Upstate MLS from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008, and does not include FSBO and non Upstate MLS listings):
Homes Sold –   55                                          
            Average Days on the Market –                       134                 
            Average List Price -                                   $505,756            
            Average Sale Price -                                    464,279            
            Sale vs. List Price –                                         91.8%             
            Current Active Listings -   238                
            Current Homes Pending (under contract) -  8
Waterfront Lots Sold -  23                  
            Average Days on the Market –                        152                
            Average List Price –                                  $251,008        
            Average Sale Price -                                    226,782         
            Sale vs. List Price –                                         90.3%             
            Current Active Listings -  178
            Current Lots Pending (under contract) - 2
If you’d like to receive an actual list of the homes/lots that have sold in 2008, please click on the link below or email Jay Hufnagel, Keller Williams Realty, at
Homes Sold
Lots Sold
The time to buy lake property is now ….”they’re not making any more of it”.   
By Jay Hufnagel, Keller Williams Realty, Lake and Home Group, 864-287-7530, .

Save our Lakes Now - Save Lake Hartwell, Russell, and Thurmond

by Jay Hufnagel

I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed: Please click on - Save our Lakes Now . I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes less than a minute of your time.

For additional information on the "State of the Lake" please go to one of my latest Blogs (click here).

Also, I added my name to the subscriber list for the 1071 Coalition Group. This group represents a wide group of people interested in the water level, health and care of Lake Lanier in Georgia. Anything that we can do to support these causes helps keep our Southeastern Lakes clean and beautiful for our use and our children.

Thank you,

Jay Hufnagel



Lake Hartwell, Plant Vogtle and Savannah River Basin Update

by Jay Hufnagel
Are you concerned as I am about the water level in Lake Hartwell?
The Georgia PSC is having a hearing today in order to take public comment on the expansion of Plant Vogtle.  The proposed addition to the plant will add two reactors and increase the gallons per day used by Vogtle to 80 million (80% of that is consumptive use -- it is gone forever).   In addition to the added use on our already stressed basin, there is a concern that water releases would have to be increased at Thurmond to make up to downstream users what is lost at Vogtle (i.e. - Savannah needs 3600cfs, after Vogtle, the river is flowing at less than that due to it's use of water, so Savannah asks the Corps to release more at Thurmond, so that they have 3600cfs even after Vogtle uses what they need for four reactors).  Also, the dredging that Southern Nuclear is requesting the Corps to do in order to make the river navigable will have impacts on the Lake because we will have to supply enough cfs per day for navigation (the river has not been used for navigation since 1979).  Navigation requires 5600cfs per day (we are currently releasing 3600 cfs per day).
Here are some facts:
Vast majority of the energy produced by the two new reactors is not needed locally and will be sold for 30 years to ALA and FL
If they wanted to - Southern could use reactors (Areva) that use 98% less water  (they are using Westinghouse reactors)
By expanding now, Southern gets to capitalize on billions in tax write-offs and subsidies that were put in place by the government for the next six nuclear power plants to expand/start operations.
If approved, Southern's permit will be good for 20 years
The papers Southern submitted all reference the Corps' Drought Contingency Plan - and we all know the current drought has shown that Plan to be inadequate.
Vogtle is the largest single user of water in our basin and one of the reasons why we have the minimum releases that we do have in place.  (Nuclear cooling is a National Security Issue - they must have sufficient flows to cool their reactors).
Here is where you need to go on Monday, November 3:
Georgia Public Service Commission
Monday, 11/3 - 10AM (you can arrive early)
244 Washington Street
Atlanta, 30334
(404) 656-4540
Come in on street level.  Take elevator to 1st floor.  Stop at window and ask for Public Hearing Room.  Sign in and wait your turn to speak.
A very general comment to make would be:
"I am very concerned that the expansion of Plant Vogtle will have negative impacts to the Savannah River Basin, which has been in drought for the last three years.  I am concerned, specifically, that releases from Thurmond Dam to support navigation in the Federal channel will put our reservoirs (Hartwell and Thurmond) in jeopardy.  I am also concerned that the Corps may be requested by stakeholders post-plant to increase cfs from Thurmond to make up for the losses in cfs that the river will have due to Vogtle's consumptive use of water from the river."
Here is what Lisa Kishoni plans on saying at the hearing today. Please support her and all of the concerned homeowners and potential buyers of Lake Hartwell area property.
 I am here today because I am very concerned that the proposed Vogtle expansion will put too much stress on the Savannah River Basin – especially the upper basin reservoirs.  I strongly feel, as do many of the business owners and homeowners who live and work near these reservoirs, that it is the wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong basin.  I also believe that permitting process largely ignored effects on the upper basin reservoirs, Lakes Hartwell and Thurmond. 
At a time when our basin has been in record drought for three years, we are looking at doubling the size of the biggest user of water in our basin, and unlike the lower half of the basin, we were not even properly noticed about the expansion!  The majority of stakeholders in the upper basin remain clueless that this expansion project is even being considered.
Plant Vogtle is one of the main reasons Lake Hartwell is currently releasing 3600 cfs a day from our dam.  Our lake is over 20 feet down and we are losing about 1 foot a week!  The Corps has told us that we will be expected to keep up these releases even when we are 40 feet down and have reached our “inactive pool.”  The future of the reservoirs is drying up before our eyes.   Along with the reservoirs, the local economies of all the counties that border the lakes are drying up as well.  Businesses have closed, houses are being foreclosed on and jobs are being lost – those of us that make our homes and livings near the lakes have the double whammy of the current economic downturn, and this protracted drought.  These lakes are the economic engine for a large part of Northeast Georgia and upstate South Carolina.  To think that the plant could be doubled in size is of huge concern.
The Savannah River Basin is an energy workhorse.  We have Duke operating their reactors at Keowee, we have hydropower production on Lakes Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond, and we’ve got units 1 and 2 at Vogtle in Waynesboro.  We also have the Savannah River Site, which I believe has it’s own reactor and requires it’s own consumptive water use.  In the future, the Savannah River Site may be used as the country's first nuclear reprocessing center -- this would certainly add to the Basin's burden, and needs to be considered as we look at the future of the basin holistically.
In addition to energy supply, the Basin is the source for municipal water use in the cities of Greenville, Lavonia, Hartwell, Elberton and Savannah, among others.  We also have environmental concerns such as the health of plant and aquatic life, and we need to make sure the river has the assimilative capacities it needs for handling manufacturing waste, sewage, etc., and also to prevent the salt water wedge from moving up the river further. 
This Basin is not inexhaustible, and at no other time in it's history has that been more apparent than now with this current drought.  River and stream flows are at all time lows.  Historical modeling will be changed by this drought.  We can no longer count on certain tributaries to the basin providing what they have provided in the previous 20 years.  Times are changing and we need to adaptively change with the Basin, or we risk destroying it.
In 2006 when this project first was announced, the drought was just beginning.  Many of the models used in the permitting process, including the Corps Drought Contingency Plan, have been proven by the current drought to be inadequate, and the Corps has admitted that things need to change and will change in the future to mitigate droughts.  Obviously, the Corps will need to react sooner and with more significant reductions in flows to mitigate the next drought, which weather modeling predicts could be longer and more intense.  How will the addition of Vogtle 3 and 4 affect the upper basin reservoirs in the next drought?  We don’t know because the Corps has not amended their drought plan yet - we do not know what will be required of the reservoirs in future droughts.  
Southern did not address the effects of their proposed expansion on the upper basin reservoirs at all in their permitting process – they just referenced the current Drought Contingency Plan, which never assumed we’d have a drought of this magnitude.  This project completely ignores potential impacts on the upper basin reservoirs during periods of drought.  The potential impacts for the upper basin reservoirs during periods of drought are significant, and they need to be vetted out and they have not.  This is a serious flaw in the permitting process. 
For example if we are in drought stage three as we are now, and we are releasing 3600cfs, as we are now, and the end stakeholders in Savannah say that due to the consumptive use of Units 1,2,3 and 4 operating at Vogtle, the City of Savannah now has less than 3600 coming in and needs The Corps to release more water at Thurmond to make up for the consumptive use of water at the plant, this affects the reservoirs.  This is a scenario the Corps hydrologist has confirmed may happen.  If this does happen, the Corps may need to increase releases at Thurmond so that Savannah is still getting the 3600 cfs they need for the city’s water supply.  No where in the permitting process was this scenario addressed and it has a direct affect on upper basin reservoir levels during drought.
With regard to the construction process, may of us in the upper basin reservoirs were dismayed to learn of Southern’s request that the river be made navigable again so they can ship their reactor components up by barge from the Harbor in Savannah to the site in Waynesboro.   Making the river navigable is another issue for the upper basin reservoirs, since we provide the flow required for navigation.  The Federal Channel has not be maintained since the last time it was used in 1979.  Southern has asked the Corps to make sure the river is navigable for their barge shipments – which may be 100 shipments over a two year period.  Even without addressing the impacts of dredging to the basin, the amount of water that will need to be sent down to make the river navigable is immense.  Right now we are sending down 3600cfs per day (and losing 1 foot of lake a week)  – navigation requires 5600cfs per day.  If we are at the beginning of the next drought  (in 2011 or 2012) when these barges hit port in Savannah, I am sure Southern will not agree to wait for spring rains and steam flows to get back up, they will want the water then.  This is a $14 billion project, and we all know money talks.  What happens to the upper basin reservoirs then?  Who has looked into this scenario?  The answer is NO ONE.
At a time when water conservation is on everyone’s mind and most of the Southeast is in record drought  – why are we pursuing the most water intensive energy option available to us?   Even the nuclear option could be pursued using less water – why isn’t it?  The Areva reactors, the ones that are going in at the Calvert Cliffs facility on the Chesapeake Bay, use 98% less water than the reactors Southern wants to put in at Vogtle.  Why in the world in an era of Global warming, protracted droughts, and water conservation are we using reactors that waste so much water, when we have access to those that don’t?  I can tell you why, because the Westinghouse AP1000 “once through” reactors that will be used in this project are pre-approved by the federal government.  This speeds up the entire permitting process for Southern.  Southern wants to be one of the first six facilities to get approved, so they can get the massive government subsidies and writeoffs that the federal government has promised to the next six facilities to start production. 
In closing, I would like for the Board to keep in mind those of us that live and work around these reservoirs, who see the water being let out and the lakes being run dry.  We understand that the basin is many things to many people and we sincerely hope you do too.   We want to protect the health of the basin, from the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers, along the Savannah River and to the Harbor.  We want to make sure we use this resource in the best way possible for the benefit of all of the stakeholders.  There is no doubt that we as a people living on this earth at this time need to conserve our water.  We are a closed system and this drought has shown the particular vulnerability of the Savannah River Basin.  Please do not approve the expansion and the use of the Westinghouse Reactors.  If Southern wants to add to their Vogtle Project, they should be required to use the reactors that use less water.  For them to make a conscious decision not to use that technology on a basin that is facing the most severe drought in it’s history is unforgiveable.   We all have seen with recent events in the financial markets what the pursuit of financial gain in the short term does for the entire nation in the long term.  We need to make the correct decisions now so that our future includes a healthy and stable Savannah River Basin for the benefit of all of us for the next 100 years and beyond.
Please make your voice heard email the PSC today at or .
Also, please visit "Save our Lakes Now" and make your voice heard.
By Jay Hufnagel, Keller Williams Realty, , 770-757-2799,

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

Contact Information

Lake and Home Group
Keller Williams Realty
4878 Manhattan Dr.
Buford GA 30518
GA: 770-757-2799
SC: 864-287-7530
Fax: 770-504-5509