For Thurmond Lake fish, D-O is a G-O

Recently we received this comment about dissolved oxygen and pumpback at the Russell Dam:

“As I recall, the Russell project was initially accompanied by much debate over water quality and fish. Has the addition of underwater oxygen injection resolved the DO [dissolved oxygen] issues for the fish? Does the hydropower generated by Russell cover the cost of this oxygenation? Also, at startup there were serious fish-kill issues on Russell’s pump-back and it was stopped for a good while. Since it has resumed, I assume that changes made to protect more of the fish population. Can you or a fish and wildlife person comment? Thanks!”

Indeed, fish habitat and water quality were major issues surrounding the construction and environmental testing of the Richard B. Russell Pumped Storage Project in the 1980s and 1990s. Here’s a general explanation why: Continue reading

Posted in Fish and Wildlife, Hydropower, Water Quality/Water Supply | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Video: Understanding Evaporation and Transpiration

Posted in Videos, Water Management, Water Quality/Water Supply | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Cleanup campaigns going on now at Corps lake near you

Looking for an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and give back to the community? How about volunteering for a lake cleanup campaign at a Corps lake near you?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District seeks volunteers to pick up trash along the shorelines and islands at lakes Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond. Volunteers are also needed to participate in other cleanup/maintenance projects around the lakes. Continue reading

Posted in Recreation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corps partners with Clemson University to monitor marshes for harbor deepening

Editors Note: This is the third in a series of articles to explain environmental monitoring efforts associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). This series will focus on the various monitoring activities that must take place before construction begins.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Thanks to a partnership with Clemson University and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, scientists are collecting valuable data in the Savannah River estuary for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).

The research is part of an extensive pre-construction monitoring plan to establish a baseline of environmental data in advance of the harbor deepening.

“Our partnership with Clemson University allows us to collect continuous data at key marsh sites in the estuary and sample wetland vegetation in those areas,” said William Bailey, chief of planning for the Corps’ Savannah District. “The data will be used to measure impacts from the harbor deepening, evaluate the performance of the mitigation features, and identify whether any additional actions are needed.”

Continue reading

Posted in Navigation, Savannah Harbor, Studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

August rainfall ranks below average at Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond

The final observed rainfall totals for August ranked below average at the Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond sub basins.

The Hartwell sub basin had the highest amount of rainfall receiving 86.2 percent of normal rainfall accumulating 4.3 total inches, just under the August average of 5 inches.

Continue reading

Posted in Rainfall Update | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Water Management website & mobile app restored

We are pleased to announce that our water management website ( and our mobile app are now restored back to their fully functional capacity. On Aug. 8 multiple hardware failures prevented the website’s database from transmitting updates to the site and the mobile app. The issue has been resolved and both the website and the mobile app have been updated with all current information and are performing as intended. Thanks for your patience as we worked through this issue.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is there so much fluctuation between the Thurmond & Stevens Creek dams?

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.

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Water Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Corps alerts lakeside property owners of impacts, consequences of cutting trees on public lands

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hartwell Lake Office is investigating and pursuing restitution for seven cases of major destruction to public lands surrounding Hartwell Lake. The destruction cases represent an unprecedented increase in property owners illegally removing trees and vegetation along the lake’s shoreline, according to Sandy Campbell, Hartwell natural resource program manager.

Consequences for destruction of public lands at Hartwell Lake may include fines, court appearances, and in some instances, revocation of shoreline use permits for private boat docks and other permitted structures and activities. The severity and reoccurrence of destruction on public lands dictates the severity of the consequences.

“With increases in lakefront property sales over the last year, some people attempt to ‘stage’ their property for sale by clearing trees on public land to improve their view of the lake,” Campbell said. “Doing so is not only violation of the Shoreline Management Plan and permit conditions, but it also has an environmental effect, impacting many facets of the reservoir.”

Continue reading

Posted in Recreation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hardware failures affect updates on Website, Mobile App

Many of you have noticed our Water Managers Page hasn’t refreshed with updated data since Aug. 8, (Friday). Hardware failures on multiple backend database servers have prevented data transmission to the publically accessible website.

Our new mobile app is impacted since it depends on the database to provide real-time information. Once the database is back online the mobile app, along with the website, will fully function again.

When we first identified the issue we didn’t expect the repair to require this much time. We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and apologize for the inconvenience.

In the meantime we will post daily reservoir levels to our social media sites, Facebook and Twitter.

Current Reservoir levels are:
Thurmond - 327.6 feet above mean sea level (ft-msl)
R. B. Russell - 474.5 ft-msl
Hartwell - 657.5 ft-msl

Best Regards,
Russell Wicke
Chief, Corporate Communications Office


Posted in Declaration/Projection, Rainfall Update, Water Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corps, SC biologists track sturgeon in Savannah River

Mitigation Logo PreConstuctionMonitoring2-01Editors Note: This is the second in a series of articles to explain environmental monitoring efforts associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). This series will focus on the various monitoring activities that must take place before construction begins. Subsequent articles will discuss specific features of the pre-construction environmental monitoring.

 SAVANNAH, Ga. – While most people may never see a shortnose or Atlantic sturgeon swimming through the Savannah River, a team of researchers is getting up-close-and-personal with these elusive, endangered species.

Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR), researchers are safely catching sturgeon, inserting sonic transmitters inside them, and releasing them back into the river.

The fish-safe technology allows scientists to monitor and record the sturgeon’s movements using an array of fixed receivers installed along the river.

“Our cooperative agreement with the SC DNR allows us to capitalize on their previous and ongoing research, giving us a better understanding of sturgeon distribution and migration patterns in strategic locations throughout the river,” said William Bailey, planning division chief at the Corps’ Savannah District.

Continue reading

Posted in Fish and Wildlife, Savannah Harbor, Studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments