Bottom line up front: The water released during this routine gate test will amount to a decrease in lake level by one-tenth of one inch, which is equivalent to the thickness of 25 sheets of paper.
SAVANNAH, Ga. – On June 19 the Corps of Engineers will conduct a required test of the spillway gates at Hartwell Dam on the upper Savannah River.
The test will ensure the gates work properly and can be activated in the event of an emergency to protect the dam plus people and property downstream. The test will be limited to one or two gates at a time only.
During the test the spillway gates will be opened 1 to 2 feet to give safety experts the opportunity to evaluate the gates’ readiness. The gates will be closed before workers open the next one or two gates.
These checks must be performed periodically in keeping with the Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety Program. The test begins at Hartwell Dam June 19 at 2 p.m. and will last about one hour in total.
Unlike past gate tests, officials will not open all the gates simultaneously. The sequential opening and closing will greatly reduce the visual effect of the test compared to those in the past.
The public may observe the tests from designated viewing and parking areas below Hartwell Dam in Georgia or from the embankment overlooking the river in South Carolina. Parking is extremely limited at either location.
Observing the test from the Highway 29 bridge, by car or foot, is strictly forbidden. Boaters should not approach the dam from downstream during the test as currents will be strong and turbulent.
The test will have only a minimal impact on reservoir levels. Because spring rains filled Hartwell Lake into the flood-storage area putting it above “full summer pool,” the test will lower Hartwell Lake only one-tenth inch – about the thickness of 25 sheets of common copy paper.
The test will have little net impact on the other reservoirs, Lake Russell and Lake Thurmond, downstream. Hartwell Lake was about 1 foot above full pool on June 11.