From the Commander:
Since we released the draft Interim Drought Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) in April, our team reviewed more than 100 emails and letters with public comments and worked closely with state and federal natural resource agencies to reach an agreement on the best actions to take during drought periods. On July 30, I approved and signed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which finalized the EA process. The FONSI along with the comments are available for public viewing on our Plans and Reports webpage. Comments are included in the appendices.
The EA provides a little greater flexibility for our current Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Primarily it changed the amount of water we release during the winter months while the basin is in Drought Levels 2 and 3. From Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, the maximum average weekly outflow from the Thurmond Dam will be 3,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) during Drought Level 2; and 3,100 cfs during Drought Level 3. The DCP also incorporated reduction in flows during levels 1 and 2 based on lower inflows into the system.
We measure those lower inflows in the Broad River (U.S. Geological Survey guage), an unregulated tributary to the Savannah River, as a secondary indicator of drought conditions. This flexibility will remain in place until the next step (full update of the DCP based the 2007-2009 drought of record) of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study is complete.
Overall, the changes we’ve implemented in the DCP are intended to achieve the best balance between human and environmental needs upstream and downstream. You can see more details about the EA in the Water Manager’s column.
This most recent issue of Balancing the Basis is meant to address some comments and concerns we received during my last visit to the basin. And that is the true purpose of this newsletter–to serve as a platform for us to reach out to you and explain the nuances involved with water management. It is my hope to help all concerned parties understand the many facets of the decision-making process and how those decisions impact each stakeholder. Therefore, if we aren’t giving you the information you need, we are falling short of our goals and need to re-evaluate our communication process.
What are the questions about the Corps you discuss with your friends and family? Is there something about the Savannah River Basin that you’d like to know more about?
You asked about rainfall calculations during my visit and we’ve explained it in this edition. I encourage you to give us your feedback and keep those questions coming. Strong, two-way communication will enable us to foster an informed relationship in the Savannah River Basin that connects us.
Col. Jeff Hall
Commander, USACE Savannah District