Next stop: Lake Hartwell, June 26

SAVANNAH, Ga. – We’re hitting the road next week, heading to Lake Hartwell for a workshop on water management and water levels. The three-hour event will be held at the North Georgia Technical College, Currahee campus, in Toccoa, Georgia. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Experts will discuss various aspects of water management, reservoir level management and water safety. Water managers and a meteorologist will give a formal presentation at 7 p.m., followed by questions and answers.

In related news, last week we released a draft report containing recommendations to improve management of water resources in the Savannah River during drought.

The study put together detailed information to determine “the amount of flow required during severe and prolonged drought.”

The public can review the entire draft study and draft drought plan online here.

We’re still seeking comments on the study and updated drought plan before we determine the final course of action. Comments may be submitted through noon Eastern Time July 13, 2017. (See ways to comment at the bottom of this article.)

We, along with our study partners, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy, examined six different alternatives to manage water during drought, comparing each to keeping the current plan.

The recommended alternative, labeled “Alternative 2” achieves the most positive impacts and the least negative impacts to the water resources compared to each of the others.

Under the recommended alternative, drought trigger level 3 rises 6 feet bringing the most restrictive outflows into play much earlier in drought. In addition trigger level 1 would remain constant year-round as opposed to dipping in relation to the winter drawdown.

This has the effect of possibly reducing outflows sooner than the current plan. Alternative 2 also keeps level 2 flat year-round reducing flows further, sooner than in the current plan.

The release of the draft report marks the second interim of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study, which started in 2012. This study includes an environmental assessment of the alternatives.

The recommended plan would update the Savannah District’s Drought Contingency Plan. The drought plan directs water managers and others on how to use and conserve resources when drought strikes the region.

The alternative recommended for adoption makes some significant changes to water management during drought.

“Of the six new alternatives studied, the group recommended one with the greatest benefit to the greatest number of purposes assigned to the three Savannah District reservoirs,” Nathan Dayan, the study’s Environmental Team Lead, said. “We examined impacts to the environment, economics, recreation, hydropower, water supply and water quality, and downstream navigation.”

“Both states worked alongside The Nature Conservancy and the Corps of Engineers to make this a true partnership in adding to our knowledge of the Savannah River Basin and in updating the drought contingency plan,” Dayan said.

Comments on the recent study and updated drought plan may be made by:
Email (Nathan Dayan): CESAS-PD@usace.army.mil
Fax: 912-652-5787
Or
By mail:
Savannah District, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Planning Branch
ATTN: Mr. Nathan Dayan (PD)
100 West Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401-3640

Thanks for staying engaged.

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Play it safe around water this summer

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Before you head out for a day on or near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Savannah District encourages you to ensure you have life jackets for everyone and that you wear them.

Last year Savannah District recorded seven fatalities on the lakes it manages, including Hartwell, Richard B. Russell and J. Strom Thurmond. Five of the seven fatalities occurred in undesignated swimming areas. Continue reading

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Misconceptions on Fish Passage Corrected

We are aware of concerns in the community about the future of the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam (NSBL&D) and changes in the proposed fish passage. We believe there are presently some assumptions or misinformation circulating within the community about those topics and the legislation passed in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. For background on how this law impacts the NSBL&D, see our summary here.

Most of the misinformation can be summarized under five main categories. We address them below: Continue reading

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The rains return

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Although it didn’t feel like a wet month, April delivered some much-needed, above average rainfall to a drought-ridden Savannah River Basin. Continue reading

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Corps seeks input on future of New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Studies are underway to determine a solution for the future of the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam, and we are seeking public input. Continue reading

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Corps fights flooding with Ga. Nat’l Guard, City of Augusta for Vigilant Guard ’17

AUGUSTA, Ga. – As a CH-47 Chinook helicopter roared overhead and a company of soldiers worked to protect the city from a rising Savannah River, David Peterson smiled, comfortable in his element.

“This is like Christmas,” said a visibly excited Peterson, chief of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District’s Emergency Management Division. Continue reading

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March deficits contribute to persistent drought

Rainfall last month continued the trend over the last 15 months that’s caused the drought conditions we currently experience. This is especially disappointing since March is typically the wettest month of the year. Continue reading

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SHEP spotlight: DO system

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Contractors with CDM Constructors Inc. are finishing concrete placement for the intake structure on the downriver site of Dissolved Oxygen Injection System. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The system is one feature in the environmental mitigation for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

As discussed previously on this blog, the DO system will force oxygen into river water via two separate plants using proprietary Speece cones to super-oxygenate water taken from the river and re-introduce it back into the river. The system is designed to provide 40,000 pounds of oxygen per day into the estuary to mitigate for the effects on dissolved oxygen from the harbor deepening.

Here’s a small scale version of how the system operates: 

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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Video: SHEP progress update in 2 min or less

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project gained more traction in March.

Several features are on schedule to be completed by the end of 2017, including the First Dike Raising (June); Raw Water Storage Impoundment (July); CSS Georgia Recovery (Sept.); Dissolved Oxygen Injection System (Dec.); and the Sediment Basin Tide Gate Removal (Dec.).

Entrance Channel Dredging, which is currently 53 percent complete, is expected to wrap up in July 2018.

Other features, such as McCoy’s Cut, the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam Fish Passage and Inner Harbor Dredging are still in the design phase.

Video produced by Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District. Additional footage courtesy of Georgia Ports Authority, Continental Heavy Civil and Thalle Construction. Music by thepassionhifi.com.

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Spring arrived early but forgot to pack rain

February’s rainfall left much to be desired as the sub-basins struggled unsuccessfully to break the two-inch mark.

Thurmond collected the most at a paltry 1.78 inches (41 percent of its average, 4.3 inches), while Hartwell and Russell registered under 40 percent – just 1.77 and 1.64 inches, respectively. Continue reading

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