Drought flow rates changed in February: here’s why

Many of our stakeholders have asked why outflow at Thurmond Dam recently increased from 3,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 4,000 cfs. Let me answer those questions and perhaps shed some light on our operational process.

First some background:
Our water managers only have limited discretion when making operational decisions on Thurmond discharge during drought. They are bound by law to follow the Savannah River Basin (SRB) Water Manual. The Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), a part of this manual, directs discharge volumes at specific lake levels, seasons, and in some cases flow rates of the Broad River. Continue reading

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January’s Rainfall was better – but more is needed for recovery

Rainfall Chart

The first month of 2017 brought a welcome change in rainfall; all three sub-basins exceeded average precipitation for the first time in almost five months.

Hartwell received 104 percent of normal rainfall; Russell, 115 percent of normal; and Thurmond cashed in at a healthy 138 percent of normal – just over 6 inches of rain.

Even better, much of the rain we received came in the form of high intensity rainfall events. Hartwell and Russell each had one major rain event that brought about 2.5 inches over three days (from Jan. 21-23). Thurmond observed two major rainfall events making up most of its total rainfall. The first occurred Jan. 1-3 with about 2.5 inches and the second Jan. 21-23 with just under 2.5 inches.

Although this is better news, it’s not great news. Continue reading

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Forecasters see mixed signals leading into spring

In the first Water Resources Outlook of 2017, NOAA climatologists give their predictions for rainfall and the potential for drought recovery.

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Crystal ball not so crystal clear – 2017

The path leading out of drought conditions is littered with "ifs." Here's one person's take on 2017.

The path leading out of drought conditions is littered with “ifs.” Here’s one person’s take on 2017. Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Once again Balancing the Basin called on its old sage to make a prediction on the summer conditions at the Corps’ Savannah River reservoirs. His editors told him to keep it serious this year.

Writing the 2016 version of this post proved easy enough. Heavy, heavy rains near the end of 2015 and into the beginning of 2016 caused tremendous runoff into the reservoirs that lasted several weeks. This runoff filled the reservoirs to overflowing (literally) which gave ample reserves for the summer recreation season. Continue reading

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The year that wasn’t (for rain)

The chart shows observed (blue) vs. average (red) rainfall for the Hartwell sub-basin, which received 60% or less than its average for 8 months in 2016.

The chart shows observed (blue) versus average (red) rainfall for the Hartwell sub-basin, which received 60% or less than its average rainfall for 8 months in 2016.

2016 was a wild, tumultuous year that started with such promise but fizzled like a wet sparkler on New Year’s Eve.

Month after month as the year wore on we watched nervously as rain deficits grew.

However, much of the resulting effects on the reservoirs were masked until summer when the continued lack of rain, heat and evapotranspiration really exacted their toll. Continue reading

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Drought deficit deeper than recent rain’s reach


Meteorologists recount December’s weather and look ahead to what the new year should bring.

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A very SHEP Christmas

As 2016 draws to a close Savannah District is looking to the future.

Here’s what the holidays will be like in a few years when the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is complete.

On the 12th day after SHEP was complete, Savannah Corps gave to me:

12 Post-Panamax vessels,
11 Environmental Impact Statements,
10 Speece cones,
9 Bass restockings
(8) CSS Georgia,
(7) Tide Gate Removal,
(6) Marsh Restoration,
(5) raw water storage impoundment,
(4) DO system,
a fish passage,
2 Hopper dredges
and a harbor at 47 feet.
(Music by the buddymollys.)

Visit our SHEP page for more updates. Click here to watch last year’s wrap-up video.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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New arrivals push DO system closer to completion


Workers delivered four Speece cones to the downriver Dissolved Oxygen Injection System site, Dec. 14, 2016.

The Speece cones, which are 22 feet tall, 12 feet in diameter at the base, and weigh more than 11 tons, force oxygen into river water and ensure current levels of dissolved oxygen are maintained before the shipping channel is deepened.

The system is scheduled to be operational by December 2017.

When complete, the dissolved oxygen injection system will employ 10 Speece cones – four downriver on Hutchinson Island, and six upriver near Plant McIntosh in Rincon – and process about 150 million gallons of water per day.

Check on the status of all SHEP-related projects here.

Video produced by Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District.

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Route to the Drought


A look back at 2016 provides insight into how the Savannah River Basin reached Drought Level 2 and the conditions we’ll need for a full recovery.

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No matter how slight, November’s rain a welcome sight

SAVANNAH, Ga – If not for three light days of rain in November, the Savannah River’s sub-basins would have none.

For yet another month, Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond seemed to almost dodge showers. Continue reading

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