Editor’s Note: This post was written for Balancing the Basin by Tonya Bonitatibus, Riverkeeper and Executive Director of the Savannah Riverkeeper, headquartered in Augusta, Ga. The Savannah Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization funded by individuals and foundations that share a commitment to creating a clean and healthy river.
There’s no doubt about it, the Savannah River is the lifeblood of our communities. She stretches more than 400 miles, forms the state boundary between Georgia and South Carolina, and drains more than 10,000 square miles of land.
Her reach is almost perfectly cut in half—the top half largely lakes, including Thurmond Lake, the largest lake east of the Mississippi. Her bottom half is free-flowing and largely industrial. Where she meets the ocean is the fourth-largest container port in the United States.
In the final days of November a welcome relief of rain fell throughout the upper basin, bringing rainfall for the month nearly to average for Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond.
Hartwell received more than three inches Nov. 26 and 27, bringing the total for the month to 4.3 inches – just two tenths of an inch short of average. On the same two days, Thurmond experienced a little less than two inches for a monthly total of 2.7 inches, which is about a half inch short of average.
In this video, Stan Simpson, a water manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, answers frequently asked questions about the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study. The Corps, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Department of Natural Resource, and The Nature Conservancy signed an agreement officially launching the second portion of the study on Sept. 18, 2013 during a bi-state water caucus meeting at Hartwell Lake. As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and feedback in the “comments” section below. Thanks for reading us!
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jessica Garrett of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of South Carolina. It was orginally published in the TNC South Carolina Update newsletter (Fall 2013 issue) and is republished here on Balancing the Basin with permission from TNC. We think you’ll find this article informative and useful. We welcome your feedback in the comments section below.
By Jessica Garrett, The Nature Conservancy
River management. The very term seems an oxymoron. We all know that nature is beyond our control—witness the floods that have damaged and destroyed communities across the U.S. and around the world in recent years—but today, the story related to “controlling” rivers is more nuanced.
In the United States, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alone operates nearly 700 dams. “The Corps is the largest and oldest water management agency in the world,” explains Andy Warner, The Nature Conservancy’s Senior Advisor for Water Management.
We are happy to announce the updated version of our Water Management page is now live. We think you will find this new format fun and useful. The URL remains the same: http://water.sas.usace.army.mil. Check out this video tutorial introducing the funtionality of the site:
By Col. Thomas Tickner, Savannah District Commander
Today, Thurmond is at guide curve and Hartwell remains slightly above guide curve. As many of you have observed, streamflows have been decreasing which is typical this time of year. Due to this decline, we have had several requests to reconsider our position on the winter drawdown of both Hartwell and Thurmond Lakes. It remains our position that long term drought projections and forecasts for winter precipitation currently do not warrant a departure from our Drought Management Plan. Our drought plan, which was recently revised September 2012, is designed to handle dry periods should conditions worsen. Therefore, we intend to proceed with the winter drawdown associated with our Water Control Manual.
October is typically the driest month of the year. This year was no exception. October marks the second month in a row we’ve experienced below-average precipitation. Hartwell received 1.6 inches for the month coming in 2.5 inches below average. Thurmond received .59 inches of rain coming in 2.41 inches below average.
Due to significant projected budget reductions in fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District will reduce park operations and visitor services at lakes Hartwell and J. Strom Thurmond during the 2014 recreation season.
We will close one campground and five day use areas on Hartwell Lake, and four campgrounds on Thurmond Lake. In addition, we will partially close two day-use areas on Hartwell Lake, and two day use areas and two campgrounds on Thurmond Lake, with only the boat ramps remaining open in those areas.
In honor of Veterans Day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Savannah District will waive day use fees for all veterans, active and reserve component service members, and their families at Corps-managed recreation areas throughout the Veterans Day holiday weekend, Nov. 9 through Nov. 11.
The fee waiver requires only verbal confirmation of service and is applicable at any USACE-operated day use area nationwide. Within the Savannah District, the waiver applies to Hartwell Lake (Hartwell, Ga.) and J. Strom Thurmond Lake (Clarks Hill, S.C.). Recreation areas at Richard B. Russell Lake (Elberton, Ga.) are operated by state and local governments; however, those parks are encouraged, but not required, to offer the fee waiver for the holiday weekend.
As part of an ongoing partnership with the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District hosted two deer hunts for PVA members and their families at Richard B. Russell Lake, Oct. 23 and 24.
“We are honored to have a District-wide partnership with PVA to provide quality hunting and fishing opportunities for them and their families,” said Zachary Baldwin, a natural resource specialist and event coordinator at the Russell Project Office. “Every year we host deer and turkey hunts and a fishing tournament. Sometimes we offer duck hunts for them, too.”