The season of ‘nothing stays the same’

The Savannah River Basin continued to bolster the prevailing theme for 2020: Change is the new routine.

April and May are normally the start of the drier season where our water managers must contend more sharply with increases in demand for water from people (hydropower), plants (transpiration) and the planet (evaporation).

However, this year we’ve seen a surge in precipitation. Thurmond collected 4.8 inches — more than an inch above its average – and it was the driest sub-basin in May.

Russell received 6.8 inches (compared to its 3.7-inch average), which was its fifth highest on record.

Hartwell led all sub-basins with a whopping 8.7 inches of rain in May, nearly twice its average (4.6 inches). This is especially impressive as not even 10 years ago (2011) the sub-basin registered a big goose egg in May (0.00 inches).

Last month’s take was the fourth highest amount since we started recording data in 1948. Besides the precipitation, our reservoirs have seen a lot of activity during the pandemic.

We recently reopened campgrounds and additional boat ramps at Hartwell and Thurmond, (while closing Hartwell’s Singing Pines boat ramp because of safety issues related to its use).

Our recreation and operations staff continues to weigh the situation with regard to public safety and available resources as the summer recreation season progresses.

Any changes to the status of our facilities will be announced on the major social media platforms (here, Facebook and Twitter) and via news releases to local and regional outlets.

In the meantime, these websites list the current status of our boat ramps at Hartwell and Thurmond. (USACE does not operate Russell boat ramps. They’re operated by state / local governments.)

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communication Office

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4 dredges work in concert as SHEP begins final push

The dredge Hampton Roads works just outside the Garden City Terminal in Port Wentworth, Ga.
Photo courtesy of Georgia Ports Authority.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The deepening of the Savannah harbor has set a new precedent with four dredges in the harbor simultaneously, the Army Corps of Engineers announced.

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) includes two dredges keeping the channel at its current authorized depth of 42 feet, followed by two dredges taking the channel to its new depth of 47 feet.

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Hartwell Lake closes Singing Pines boat ramp

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Corps of Engineers officials at Hartwell Lake have closed all access at Singing Pines Recreation Area, including the roadway leading to the boat ramp parking area, in response to repeated trespassing of the adjacent closed day-use area and public safety issues along the park entrance road and the boat ramp parking area.

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Phased reopening begins at Thurmond and Hartwell

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Phased reopening of Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds and additional boat ramps at reservoirs along the Savannah River will take place May 15 and May 18.

The gradual reopening will vary based on the ability to ensure visitors and Corps of Engineers staff remain safe and can continue to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Before opening facilities, workers will conduct a thorough cleaning of restrooms, showers and other common-use areas.

Restrooms at boat ramps currently in use will be reopened. Additional boat ramps not associated with closed day-use areas will reopen.

Visitors must bring their own soap and hand sanitizer and paper towels when using restrooms.

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Can’t stop, won’t stop (the rain)

As the coronavirus brought the world to a halt the last two months, another force of nature refused to slow down: rainfall along the Savannah River Basin.

The basin continued its above-average climb as spring began its full swing.

With the exception of the Hartwell sub-basin in March, which was 0.3 inches below average, each of the sub-basins received more than 1 inch (and in some cases 2+ inches) above average for the past two months.

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Augusta’s training wall served its purpose

SAVANNAH, Ga. – A team of experts from Savannah District recommends removing the training wall in the Savannah River which runs roughly down the center of the river for more than a mile through Augusta, Georgia, and North Augusta, South Carolina. The underwater wall was built in the early 20th century to aid commercial navigation.

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Thurmond closes 3 boat ramps

J. Strom Thurmond Lake has closed an additional three boat ramps in cooperation with local law enforcement to help achieve the national individual distancing standards set by the government.

Officials previously closed the visitors’ center and all restrooms, campgrounds and day-use areas (and boat ramps inside those areas) at the reservoir.

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Boat ramp rodeo

We’ve been fielding a lot of calls and direct messages regarding our boat ramps recently. Here’s the scoop – the current list is accurate as of Friday, April 3 at noon, HOWEVER, things can change rapidly.

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Corps recreation areas closing nationwide

In order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Corps of Engineers is implementing restrictions on campsite and day-use area availability nationwide. The restrictions apply to Hartwell, Richard. B Russell and J. Strom Thurmond reservoir projects in the following ways.

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The fix is in for the water manager’s page

We truly appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we’ve been diligently working through the IT issues associated with our water manager’s page.

After more than a few hiccups, we’re happy to report the page is up and our lakes are coming down to full pool after a wet and wild February.

(The skinny: In order to make our water manager’s page public, we must frequently patch and update security certificates. As part of the requirement for Department of Defense websites this page has to be encrypted even though does not pass sensitive information. This is not always the case with commercial or other public websites.)

The last patch broke all your bookmarks and the app, because it required insertion of an “s” after the “http.” Now the page is only accessible in this form: https://water.sas.usace.army.mil.

If you paste that URL in your browser it should work (I’ve double checked this on various browsers and computers.)

As we mentioned in July, we are losing rights to that platform for reasons explained in the announcement.

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