June rainfall ranks normal at Thurmond; below average at Hartwell and Russell

Although it rained almost every day of the month, June rainfall amounts ranked below average at the Hartwell and Russell sub-basins; but the Thurmond basin received normal rainfall for this time of year.

Throughout June, the National Weather Service recorded rain on 28 days Hartwell, 27 days at Thurmond, and 26 days at Russell. However, daily rainfall amounts were only fractions of an inch. The largest single rain event last month (1.2 inches) occurred on June 12 at the Hartwell sub-basin.


The Thurmond sub-basin received 3.6 inches in June, compared to the June average of 3.8 inches. The Hartwell sub-basin recorded 3.6 inches of rain in June, falling 1.2 inches short of the June average. Similarly, the Russell sub-basin received 2.8 inches, exactly 1 inch below the June average.

Hartwell’s pool elevation remained above full pool, 660 feet above mean sea level for nearly the entire month of June. On June 26, the Hartwell pool dipped just below 660 for the first time since April 7. The Thurmond pool elevation remained around 329.5 ft-msl, our targeted guide curve elevation while repair work continues on the gates at the dam.

~Tracy Robillard, public affairs specialist



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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4 Responses to June rainfall ranks normal at Thurmond; below average at Hartwell and Russell

  1. Larry says:

    Appreciate your work in maintaining Hartwell at 660 guide vs the average. This is where an adapative approach really should help. As you project the future level please work to 660 until October. Thank you

    • Ferris says:

      Hi Larry,

      Here are links to a couple of posts discussing summer lake levels that I found helpful.

      This one, from the former Commander Col. Jeff Hall, discusses why power generation is not the driver for summer releases and some of the other considerations.

      This one, from Tracy Robillard, discusses why lake levels rise and fall throughout the year from influences other than reservoirs releases. Yeah, this is the one where my disagreement about rainfall variations being significant caused a distraction. I could have said it differently, sorry Tracy.

      Holding Hartwell at 660 feet with normal rainfall would probably cause a drought downstream, and could cause the Savannah water quality to become unsuitable for both downstream power plants because municipal wastes will not be sufficiently diluted. The drought release rate of 4200 CFS is a minimum that causes sacrifices downstream. The current nominal release rates of 6000 CFS or so helps keep the basin healthy.


      • scott says:

        Thank you for posting that 6000cfs is considered a minimum to maintain healthy flows downstream. Based on your comment that seems to be based on wastewater flows. If water users downstream were to use recycled waster water (as many powerplants have done) would this reduce this flow requirement? If so, why isn’t this being considered?

        • Ferris says:

          Hi Scott,
          Good question. I research articles and try to stay informed regarding our water resource, but I am not an expert. A study that is currently underway will recommend seasonal release rate ranges, which may include more seasonal variation than the current recommendations.
          I support the goal of increasing the amount of water that is recycled using a cost benefit analysis. Naturally, that would require an authorized agency to perform a study and make recommendations. In most cases, congress would need to pass the laws necessary to pay for the study and to write and enforce the additional regulation. Permits are required for businesses and municipalities to withdraw from and discharge into the river, so maybe the USACE already has some of that information or can direct you where to find it.
          I didn’t mean to imply that release rates were all about commercial and industrial needs. There are many people who enjoy the Savannah River, all the way to the coast, and we don’t want to do it in a shallow, smelly, polluted river. For example, I am one of 54 members of a 5400 acre sportsman’s club in south Richmond County that has a border of about 8.6 miles on the Savannah River and 2.2 miles on McBean Creek. Col Jeff Hall once communicated that drought level release rates can artificially place the lower basin in a drought. That is in line with my observations because all side channels on our property become completely dry and the river becomes so low that boating and fishing are a hassle, hazardous, and not productive. In these conditions I rarely see boaters enjoying the river even though Jackson Landing is right across from us. I consistently observe boaters when Thurmond release rates are 7000 CFS and higher. When I said that 6000 CFS helps keep the basin healthy, I meant that the current release rate is considerably better for the river than 4200 CFS and was not trying to set a target. I hope this helps clarify my post. ~Ferris