Here's an interesting email message that I received from the Save our Lakes Now Organization. I especially found it interesting that it'll take 9 inches of rain in one month to saturate the ground enough so that the Savannah River Basin (Lake Hartwell, Lake Thurmond, and Lake Russell) can benefit from the run off in a rain. If you're a Lake Hartwell Real Estate stakeholder or home owner, the message below may provide some explanations on:

                                    WHERE DID THE RAIN GO?

 I know every lake stakeholder is wondering where the heck all that rain went.  For a while I was about to agree with the conspiracy theorists who are convinced the Corps is not telling us the truth about releases and lake levels, etc. Some even suggested there must be a hidden pipeline running to Atlanta and they are stealing all our water.  Turns out none of this is true.  The numbers the Corps is showing and the explanations they are giving for why we didn't get a huge jump in lake level with the recent rains appear to be correct.

I've looked at this in a lot of detail since it rained and I have to say it looks like the water runoff got consumed by the dry ground and vegetation before making it to the basin.  Release rates were held at 3800 cfs and all stream indicators downstream (especially the levels at Clyo which is the last point in the system where stream measurements are taken before the harbor) show no unusual flow that would indicate higher release rates than the Corps shows.  We've been talking to climatologists to see if they agree with what the Corps is claiming about dry ground and vegetation and they do. And no matter how hard I look I can't find any evidence of a hidden water line to Atlanta.

Climatologists that study rainfall and drought levels for the Savannah River Basin  claim it will take more than 9 inches of rain in one month to get the soil etc back to normal so that we get run off in a rain.  We desperately need a tropical system to park right over the basin and give us this kind of rain.

Meanwhile we continue to work on getting the drought control plan for the Savannah River System corrected so that future events won't be this devastating.  Following our recommended drought control plan our lakes would have several more feet of water in them than they do now.  Repeating what we've preached all along, we need a much more agressive approach to drought response than currently exists.  Our recommended approach remains unchanged;

~ We propose that release rates from Thurmond be reduced to 3600cfs (3100 in colder months) anytime Thurmond drops below 328ft.  The proposed plan by the Corps is to lower releases anytime the Broad River flows indicate we are in a drought. While this is a significant improvement it is not as aggressive as our proposal because they wait longer to initiate flow reductions and their proposed reductions are 3800cfs instead of 3600.
~ Continue 3600cfs until the lakes refill.  The current plan by the Corps is to increase flows as the lake recovers making it more difficult to refill the lakes
~ Modify the rule curve so that we only drop the lakes 2' rather than 4' following the summer. The current Corps plan is to stay with a 4' drop at the end of summer.

The reasoning the Corps is offering for not adopting our more aggressive approach is they want to wait until a 2 or so year study can be completed.  Our reasoning is we did these changes for over 12 consecutive months in 2008-9 with no problems.  We are saying go with what we learned in 2008 unless or until some unexpected problem occurs.

It is frustrating to keep repeating our proposals.  It would be much easier to simply go along with the Corps' proposals.  But this repetition is necessary because the Corps, over time, continues to get further away from what we are recommending.  This is probably a matter of the Corps compromising with the various environmental agencies.  Unfortunately such compromising costs us many feet of lake level during droughts.  At one time they were agreeing with a 2' drop in the winter rather than a 4'drop.  And at one time they agreed to go to 3600cfs rather than 3800.  And at one time they agreed to hold the lower release rates until the lakes refill.  Now all that has changed.  The compromise to stay with a 4' drop in the winter costs us 2' at the start of a drought.  The compromise of 3800 instead of 3600 cfs costs us 2' a year in lake level. And the compromise on how the lakes are refilled will stretch out our misery unnecessarily following a drought.