SHEP and the Savannah River – a Wrap-up

Editor’s note: Beginning in July 2013 this blog has posted a series of stories on the environmental monitoring of the Savannah River as part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The monitoring program continues and some will be expanded and continued into the future. This article encapsulates the information presented in this blog over the past 18 months.

Shown here is an aerial view of the Savannah River in Savannah, Georgia. As part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading a robust environmental monitoring effort to ensure mitigation for the harbor deepening performs as intended. USACE photo by Billy Birdwell.

Shown here is an aerial view of the Savannah River in Savannah, Georgia. As part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading a robust environmental monitoring effort to ensure mitigation for the harbor deepening performs as intended. USACE photo by Billy Birdwell.

Environmental stewardship remains a top focus of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Deepening the Savannah harbor will impact the ecosystem of the estuary and conditions in the river all the way to the base of the Thurmond Dam north of Augusta, Georgia. Continue reading

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Scientists monitor cadmium levels in bird species

Editors Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles to explain environmental monitoring efforts associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). This series focuses on the various monitoring activities that must take place as construction begins.

A Savannah Sparrow captured by University of Georgia biologists conducting avian sampling Dec. 4 at Dredged Material Containment Area 14A.  The winter sampling consisted of drawing blood samples from target species and banding them for future sampling that will continue during construction and three years post-construction (Photo by Chelsea Smith).

A Savannah Sparrow captured by University of Georgia biologists conducting avian sampling Dec. 4. The winter sampling consisted of drawing blood samples and banding target species for future sampling that will continue during construction and three years post-construction (Photo by Chelsea Smith).

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Several large impoundments in South Carolina along the lower Savannah River provide habitats for thousands of birds who migrate to the area seasonally. These sites, also known as dredged material containment areas (DMCAs), attract a variety of migratory birds who feed on area fish, invertebrates and vegetation. Continue reading

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November rainfall near average for Corps reservoirs

During November, Thurmond sub-basin exceeded average rainfall, the Russell sub-basin got near-perfect average rainfall, and the Hartwell sub-basin received below-average rainfall. Continue reading

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Private reservoirs support Corps public ones

Editor’s note: This installment of a continuing series of articles explaining the operations of the Savannah River basin, looks at the support upstream, privately-owned reservoirs contribute to keeping the basin in balance. Savannah District officials often get asked why Lake Keowee, owned by Duke Energy, seems to remain full while the Corps’ reservoirs, particularly Hartwell Lake seems to drop. Read below on how the far-upper basin supports the central basin.

Georgia’s Tugaloo River and South Carolina’s Seneca River meet underneath the waters of Hartwell Lake to form the Savannah. Both rivers host privately-owned reservoirs used to produce electricity for the region. Those reservoirs also provide water for Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond lakes – and therefore the rest of the basin. Continue reading

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Updates on the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive and Flood Storage studies

Update on the Flood Storage Assessment
In October 2013 we announced an initiative to assess our flood storage capacity to test the possibility of reducing our current flood storage allotment. More specifically, the study will provide information that will better define the present need for flood storage in the basin. In the announcement we estimated the study would take approximately 12 months. Based on recent updates from the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), the organization conducting most of the study, the results will be delayed about six more months. Continue reading

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Sound science is critical for balancing ecological, economic needs of the basin

Editor’s Note: This article is authored by Oscar P. Flite III, Ph.D. CEO and Senior Scientist at Phinizy Center for Water Sciences. Dr. Flite and his organization are involved in scientific research on the Savannah River that provides critical information needed to make informed decisions about the basin’s natural resources.

phinizy_logoIn 2005, Phinizy Center for Water Sciences (formerly known as Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy), a nonprofit research and education center in Augusta, Georgia, developed a Savannah River research program with funds originating from individuals, foundations, municipalities, and industries, along with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. From 2006 to 2009 those funds helped develop a continuous monitoring network, a significant water quality database, and an assessment of the aquatic insect community along the Savannah River. Data were collected at 10 locations from 7 miles below Thurmond Dam to near Clyo, Georgia. The initial data allowed us to develop a complete understanding of how the Savannah River functions from a chemical, physical, biological, and geological perspective. It was also valuable in helping Georgia and South Carolina improve regulatory water quality modeling efforts. A summary of the data and analyses can be found in our final project report.

Continue reading

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Hartwell overcomes dry season with above average rainfall, Thurmond, Russell near average

October marks the traditional dry season for the Savannah River Basin reflected by typical lower precipitation recorded at Thurmond and Russell sub-basins compared to other months in the year. Continue reading

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Commander: An open letter on Savannah River Basin drought management

Editor’s Note: Since entering drought level 1 some stakeholders in the upper basin have written urging Savannah District leaders should take immediate and dramatic actions to preserve reservoir levels. Col. Thomas Tickner, the District Commander addresses these emails in this open-letter posting.

Thank you for your recent input and your views on managing the Savannah River basin. As my staff and I have said many times, we take this responsibility very seriously. I have assigned top-notch experts to oversee the actions we take to keep the multiple purposes of the river balanced. Continue reading

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Freshwater storage impoundment mitigates increased chlorides in Abercorn Creek

Editors Note: This is the sixth in a series of articles to explain environmental monitoring efforts associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). This series will focus on the various monitoring activities that must take place as construction begins.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Understanding the reverberating environmental impacts of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project has been a sizable undertaking for the Corps’ and its partners. Preserving high water quality standards is at the forefront of the Corps’ efforts to minimize adverse environmental effects that may result from the expansive project. Continue reading

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New operating agreement advances collaborative management of SRB water resources

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA), and Duke Energy signed a new operating agreement in Elberton, Georgia, Oct. 17 defining how water resources will be shared among the Duke Energy and Corps reservoirs in the Savannah River Basin. This operating agreement will increase drought tolerance within the watershed and promote conservation efforts. Continue reading

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