To our communities, residents and stakeholders of the Savannah River Basin:
As we progress through 2012, the Corps of Engineers Savannah District team continues to work diligently on various projects at Hartwell, Richard B. Russell and J. Strom Thurmond.
Our engineering and planning team is working on an Environmental Assessment that will evaluate minor adjustments to the 2006 Drought Contingency Plan that could allow the Corps to implement changes during the current drought, depending on the recommended alternative and project conditions. This EA, which we are calling the “Interim Drought Plan EA,” will contain alternative drought management approaches to more efficiently respond to the varying needs of the basin and improve the use of conservation storage to meet project purposes. The EA is scheduled for public release this spring and will remain in place until the end of the next step of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study (revision of existing Drought Contingency Plan).
We are keenly focused on initiating the next steps within the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study. The study will examine the extensive interactions of resources, project purposes and environmental and social aspects of the entire basin. It would improve our scientific understanding of the effects of reservoir operations during all flow conditions, and allow us to identify the effects that would result from major changes in those operations. The Comprehensive Study is required for the Corps to make changes to the water management plan that are outside our existing Congressionally-defined authorities.
The study is a joint endeavor between the Corps of Engineers and the states of Georgia and South Carolina. The Corps met with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Georgia DNR, and The Nature Conservancy earlier this week to discuss how we should best focus study efforts to result in useful products. Resuming this study has taken much longer than any of us thought, but we continue to get closer to identifying and agreeing on the specific tasks that would be performed, the cost of those tasks, and which party would perform them. I invite you to read more about these efforts and more in the “From the Water Managers” column in this edition of the e-newsletter.
Also, we are gearing up to celebrate an historic occasion—the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Hartwell Dam and Power Plant. We are working with community partners to bring activities to Hartwell throughout 2012 to commemorate the anniversary year.
We recently awarded a repair contract for the Richard B. Russell Dam. Once the work is complete, the power plant’s full generating and pump back capacity will be restored. Pump back generation provides more peak-demand electricity while re-using the same amount of water again and again. READ MORE
And as always, we stress the importance of sound safety decisions and planning while on the water this winter. Colder weather increases the chances of boaters, hunters and fisherman of developing hypothermia. Your first line of defense is to always wear a properly-fitting, U.S. Coast-Guard approved life jacket.
Col. Jeff Hall
Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District