Earlier this summer we asked readers what topics they want to read about on Balancing the Basin. Here’s one of many questions we received:
“Why there is so much fluctuation of river levels between Thurmond dam and Stevens Creek dam?”
The simple answer is because outflows differ during “peak demand” times for hydropower. Here’s a brief explanation:
The Stevens Creek Dam is located about 13 miles downstream of the J. Strom Thurmond Dam and about 8 miles north of the city of Augusta, Georgia. It is owned and operated by South Carolina Electricity and Gas (SCEG). The impoundment area spans a 12-mile stretch along the Savannah River and an 8-mile stretch of Stevens Creek, totaling approximately 2,400 acres.
An aerial view of the Stevens Creek Hydroelectric Facility. Source: SCEG website.
The river levels between the Thurmond Dam and Stevens Creek Dam experience normal daily fluctuations ranging from three to five feet. The fluctuations are caused by “peaking” operation at the Thurmond Dam. Peaking power is produced during periods of the day when demand for electricity is highest—generally in the afternoon and early evening.