High praise for below average performance

For all the hubbub this year’s strong El Niño has generated among forecasters, January’s precipitation, which delivered about 80% of the average at each sub-basin, felt more underwhelming than the numbers suggest.

It’s like when LeBron James only scores 20 points.

Hartwell posted a respectable 4.55 inches Jan 2016Rainfall Chart(5.23 in. average), while Russell and Thurmond fell about an inch short of their January averages (3.28 vs. 4.34, and 3.22 vs. 4.34, respectively).

In addition, for the past three years the whole basin has fallen short of its January average (Thurmond’s sub-par streak actually goes back six years).

However, in light of December’s record-setting rainfall across the basin, perhaps January’s 80% is more than enough, especially when a larger percentage of that precipitation actually reaches the reservoirs in the winter compared to the summer because of lower rates of evapotranspiration.

Today, as a storm moved east across Georgia the sub-basins got a solid jumpstart on February’s precipitation: Hartwell, 1.87 inches; Russell, 1.92; and Thurmond, 1.47.

In their Jan. 21 “Water Resources Outlook” NOAA forecasters said there’s still a lot of winter and early spring left, and that we won’t be out of the wetter-than-average-conditions woods until April.

NOAA even predicted small bits of respite between larger swaths of rainfall, which should provide residents along the Savannah River Basin (and water managers) some time to regroup.

Still, the situation seems all too Chicken Little: Forecasters have been saying the sky will be falling for so long that you almost start to root for the rain, and feel let down when it doesn’t arrive or takes too long.

However, El Niño’s behavior hasn’t really strayed from forecasters’ predictions since October, and perhaps this isn’t the last we’ll see of this kid.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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It’s hopper season

Outer harbor dredging for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) kicked into second gear when hopper dredging operations began in late December.

(The above video, courtesy of Jan de Nul Group, shows how hopper dredges work.)

Hopper dredges are more mobile than their cutter suction counterparts, which pump the dredged material to a barge that must be towed to a disposal area.

Conversely, hoppers suction material from the bottom via dragarms and deposit the material into a cargo bin onboard as the ship moves through the channel. When the bin is full, the ship deposits the material in the disposal area.

Because hoppers dredge as they move, they are confined to a window from Dec. 15-March 31 to protect sea turtles from becoming entangled.

Cutter suction dredging will resume in the outer harbor later in the year.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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Irrigation prohibition suspended until further notice

In response to a high volume of stakeholder feedback, as well as input from adjacent landowners in a recent meeting, officials from the Corps’ South Atlantic Division (SAD) have announced suspension of the new policy change prohibiting minor water withdrawals at lakes across the division.

The suspension serves to allow further review of the policy and its implications for adjacent shoreline residents. Continue reading

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When it comes to rainfall, 5 feet is no small feat

The Savannah River Basin rang in the new year with a bang, but instead of watching the ball (or peach) drop, it basked in the El Niño-inspired, recording-breaking precipitation.

Thurmond led all revelers with its 11.1 inches in December, which nearly tripled its average (4.05) and surpassed the previous record by almost 3 inches (8.5 inches set in 2013). Continue reading

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Corps responds to shoreline management concerns

As we expected, the original post last week generated significant attention here on the blog and through email directed to our office. Five issues seemed to stand out which I will address. Continue reading

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Changes affect shoreline uses at Hartwell, Thurmond

Often laws and regulations go into effect at the beginning of a new year. The Savannah District started three more this Jan. 1. All deal with shoreline management at Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs on the Savannah River.

Two stirred little controversy. Continue reading

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Savannah River Dams to make controlled spillway releases due to recent rains

Due to recent above-normal rainfall in the upper Savannah River Basin, Savannah District anticipates a need to operate the spillway gates early on the morning of Dec. 31 at the three major dams in the Savannah River system: Hartwell Dam, Richard B. Russell Dam and J. Strom Thurmond Dam. Continue reading

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2015 – it’s a rap

It’s the end of the year, halls decked with cheer
So it’s time to look back for the Corps of Engineers

Projects so vast too much to count
but here’s a quick bit for what we’re all about Continue reading

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Community feedback helps keep us on track

We started Balancing the Basin nearly four years ago to establish communication with you, our readers and stakeholders, and to relay relevant information on projects and operations along the Savannah River Basin.

In that span we’ve covered topics ranging from droughts to floods, environmental assessments to mitigation projects and many subjects in-between.

And as we approach the start of a new year, we’re turning back to you for ideas and topics we either haven’t covered or that you’d like to learn more about.

Just comment below, email CESAS-CCO@usace.army.mil or message us via Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you for continuing to read us, for commenting here and via our other social media platforms, and for remaining engaged in our community. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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Corps awards $40.2M contract to build raw water storage for Savannah harbor expansion

During normal operations, water will be drawn from Abercorn Creek and will bypass the impoundment, which will be kept full. During low river flows (drought conditions) and high tides, pumping from Abercorn Creek will stop and water will be drawn from the impoundment until the tides recede.

During normal operations, water will be drawn from Abercorn Creek and will bypass the impoundment, which will be kept full. During low river flows (drought conditions) and high tides, pumping from Abercorn Creek will stop and water will be drawn from the impoundment until the tides recede.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Construction should begin by this summer on a $40.2 million, raw water storage impoundment for the City of Savannah as part of environmental mitigation for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, awarded Thalle Construction Company of Hillsborough, North Carolina, to build the 17-acre impoundment in Effingham County, Georgia, along Abercorn Creek. Continue reading

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