Progress Report: Flood Storage Study results are near

Since our last progress report on the flood storage study published November 2014, we received a few inquiries on when the results would be released. In the above linked post we estimated the study would take approximately six more months to complete, which projected a late spring/early summer completion date.

Off by a few months, the study concluded in July 2015. Although we now have a complete data set and hydrology models, our water managers report that the Corps’ Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), the organization conducting most of the study, is in the process of releasing a report of their analysis on the management of the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF).

With this report, HEC will also be releasing a set of design storms which will require further calibration. Once calibrated, we can assess the reallocation of flood storage at Hartwell.

Data analysis on the reallocation of flood storage at Hartwell is scheduled to take a few months, dependent on available funding and resources.

Recommendations will then be forwarded to the District’s Planning Division to determine whether a reduction in flood pool can be considered as a viable alternative in the next phase of the basin’s comprehensive study, said Corps water manager Stan Simpson.

For those needing a recap or overview of the study, our October 2013 announcement detailed why the Corps began the study.

The story explained how the flood pool analysis intended to examine whether the established 4-foot winter drawdown could be reallocated according to new data.

To summarize, HEC developed rainfall models to analyze the ability of the projects to contain:

  1. the greatest rain event the basin could expect, known as the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF); and
  2. the 2- to 500-year storm events at the three Savannah River projects for future analysis. The HEC models, once calibrated, can later be used to analyze possible reductions in flood storage at the projects.

Since then, HEC has developed and run several scenarios to test the ability of the projects to pass the Probable Maximum Flood. These same models are being further refined by the Mapping and Modernization Center for incorporation into the Corps Water Management System (CWMS), a tool that offers features that most Corps water managers need to perform operation analyses on a daily basis.

The CWMS suite can be used to test the feasibility of different scenarios and develop estimates of increased damages due to reduced flood storage, according to Simpson.

Water managers and members of the District’s Planning Division will use these results to evaluate the impacts associated with changes in project operations. If decreasing the winter drawdown is feasible, then reallocating the proposed 2 feet of flood storage to conservation storage would become a viable alternative considered in the third and last phase of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive study.

If the proposed reduction alternative is the chosen alternative for that phase, the district would recommend a reallocation of flood storage which requires congressional approval.

Thanks for reading us, and as always, we welcome your comments and feedback!

~Chelsea Smith, 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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