Corps, states, Nature Conservancy kick-off 2nd interim of Comprehensive Study

We are pleased to announce the long-awaited second portion of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study has officially begun.

During a bi-state water caucus meeting at Hartwell Lake Sept. 18, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, the Georgia and South Carolina Departments of Natural Resources (DNRs) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) signed an agreement to formally kick-off the study.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, along with legislators from both states, attended the event.

“This signing event represents one step forward in a greater effort to perform a full Comprehensive Study that will examine extensive interactions of water resources, project purposes in the basin,” said Col. Thomas Tickner, commander of the Corps’ Savannah District.

Officials kick off the next part of the Savannah River Comprehensive Study Sept. 18. Col. Thomas Tickner, Savannah Distirict commander, joins Jud Turner, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Alvin Taylor, Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Deron Davis of The Nature Conservancy in a joint agreement to start the study. U.S. Army photo by Tracy Robillard

Officials kick off the next part of the Savannah River Comprehensive Study Sept. 18. Col. Thomas Tickner, Savannah Distirict commander, joins Jud Turner, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Alvin Taylor, Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Deron Davis of The Nature Conservancy in a joint agreement to start the study. U.S. Army photo by Tracy Robillard

“I would like to thank the resource agencies, TNC, and all the stakeholders for their time, interest and involvement,” Tickner said. “Investing into the Savannah River Basin is well worth our efforts. This basin is an important resource shared among us all, and we all, as stewards of this resource, share responsibility in its upkeep. ”

About the Comp Study

The entire Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study (Comp. Study) is divided into multiple interim studies. Each portion of the study is cost-shared 50/50 between the federal government and the states of Georgia and South Carolina (non-federal sponsors). The second portion of the study added The Nature Conservancy as an additional non-federal sponsor—something not done in the past.

We completed the first portion of the study in 2006 at a cost of $1.8 million. It included a water supply survey, a flow dataset, and a computer model for the basin to identify how changes in operations affect reservoir levels and downstream conditions. It also included the 2006 Environmental Assessment that updated the Corps’ 1989 Drought Contingency Plan in response to the drought of record from 1998-2002. The first portion of the Comp. Study was crucial in updating the drought plan and reducing outflows earlier in drought at levels 1 and 2 — keeping more water in the reservoirs while still meeting downstream needs.

At a cost of $908,000, the second portion of the study will prepare a drought contingency plan update based on the most recent “drought of record” for the basin, from 2007 to 2009. “Drought of record” refers to the driest drought experienced in the history of the basin.

The study will determine the minimum environmentally acceptable release at Thurmond Dam during drought conditions and the duration a minimum release can be sustained.

Ultimately the second part of the Comp. Study is meant to answer two questions:

1) How low can reservoir releases be reduced at Thurmond Dam during drought conditions?

2) How long can these recommended minimum outflows be sustained before significant impacts would occur to the economy and environment?

“Although Interim Two is only a small part of the overall Comprehensive Study, it represents an important mark of progress,” Tickner said. “It will get us closer to understanding the complexities of the basin, and enable us to determine how far we can stretch our precious fresh-water resource during drought.”

Studies beyond the second interim would collect data necessary to recommend potential changes to the water management plan that are outside of our existing Congressionally-defined authorities.

About the Water Caucus

The Georgia Savannah River Basin Legislative Caucus was formed during the 2013 legislative session and consists of approximately 30 House members and Senators whose districts touch the basin. The common goal of the Caucus is to protect and preserve Georgia’s natural resources and promote the economic development for all people who live within this region. In response to the formation of the Georgia Savannah River Basin Legislative Caucus, South Carolina also formed a similar caucus this year.

The Sept. 18 Water Caucus event brought Georgia and South Carolina legislators together to further the dialogue among policy makers with interests relating to the vast Savannah River Basin. There was a special focus on economic development, the preservation of shared natural resources, and general collaboration between the two states (Source: Georgia House of Representatives website).

 

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multi-million dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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  • jimmy

    Any update on when the website will be back up and if it’s not soon, could you give us some insight on why it is taking so long. While most businesses now depend on their website to stay in business, it’s hard to imagine what is taking the Corp so long. Thanks in advance.

    • Hello Jimmy, we will soon post another update on where we are with the Water Manager’s Page. We understand there is a demand for the information the page provides. The site has been re-built and is currently going through a required security review from the U.S. Army Cyber Command. As a federal government agency, we are required to meet high security standards and web protocol. Since we depend on authorizations from other organizations outside our district, we don’t have control over every step in the process.

      If I may make an important distinguishing note to your gentle criticism, our official website (www.sas.usace.army.mil), the one we use to conduct business, remains live and operational. We make our Water Manager’s Page live to the public not out of operational necessity, but as a courtesy. ~Russell

      • jimmy

        Russell , again thank you for your reply. I was only critical because it seems there has been very little effort to get this courtesy web page back up and running. Did you not know 2 months ago when you stated it would be back up in a week or so that it needed to go thru Cyber Command? From the public’s point of view, this page is the most informative on providing information about the lakes.

        • Hello Jimmy – No, in my August 16 post I didn’t know it needed to go through Cyber command. At that time we were still in rebuild mode. This is a first-time occurance for us so we had to learn the process. Believe me, we want the site back up just like everyone else who uses it. The mishap has been an unwelcome inconvenience for us as well. We’ll be posting more details about the issue soon – probably this week. Thanks for understanding. ~Russell