The Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted limited engineering and operations tests on spillway gates at Hartwell and J. Strom Thurmond dams, Aug. 25 and 26, respectively.
Beth Williams, project engineer for the tests, said the routine tests are required to ensure the gates are in proper working order, but also provide an opportunity to train and familiarize operations staff with operating procedures.
Unlike previous tests conducted at full pool, the test at Hartwell Dam only involved a few gates, and only four of the 23 gates were tested at Thurmond Dam. These atypical tests help conserve water in the reservoirs while still meeting minimum requirements.
While giving the appearance of a large release, the amount of water discharged only equals an additional 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) spread over a 24-hour period at each reservoir. Recent daily releases have been between 3,800 cfs to 7,800 cfs.
Williams said district water managers estimate the reservoir levels will only decline 23-thousandths of an inch or less because of the limited amount of time the gates were open.
Changes of 23-thousandths of an inch (0.023 inch), equate to less than the thickness of six sheets of paper.
Williams and her team estimated these measurements based on water release calculations; the change in water level is so minute it is immeasurable using physical instruments.