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 http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/reports.html .
Comments can be submitted via e-mail to:
CESAS-PD@usace.army.mil

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.