Gate repairs underway at Thurmond & Russell dams

As temperatures rise so does interest in water activities and therefore, interest in reservoir levels along the upper Savannah River basin. One of the factors impacting water levels at Thurmond Lake and Russell Lake is an on-going effort to repair pits in the metal spillway gates. We mentioned this briefly in our post on March 12  here in Balancing the Basin.

In an earlier repair program in 2009 we needed to keep the Thurmond reservoir at least two feet below full pool. Any level higher than 328 feet above mean sea level put workers in danger and required a work-stoppage (at government expense) until the level dropped. For the current repair work we had initially said we could allow the reservoir to reach 330 ft-msl. However, once work started we realized trying to keep exactly 330 ft-msl simply wouldn’t work.

Allowing Thurmond’s level to hit exactly on 330 ft-msl limits our ability to continue the repairs. Water levels can rise quickly with even a small, passing storm. This forces our contractor to stop work. There is no flexibility in this safety issue. To give us a little ‘working room’ we now target 329.5 ft-msl. Just having an extra 6 inches gives us the room we need to keep the repairs going.

The gate repair work may take up to 24 months to complete.

We also need to address a rumor that continues to pop up every time any construction work takes place associated with the reservoirs. This rumor now approaches ‘urban legend’ status. It goes something like this:

“I heard the Corps plans to drop Thurmond or Hartwell (it varies each year) 15 feet for [name the construction project].” The construction could be gate repairs, dam repairs, or, in its 2014-version, Little River bridge work by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Regardless of the project, the RUMOR … IS … FALSE.

We have no plans to change reservoir levels except in keeping with our water control manual, the drought management plan and nature. (The minor impact of gate repairs, as noted above, being the only exception.) No matter how much you trust your source, we have no plans to drop the reservoir levels 15 feet. If you hear this rumor from a friend or neighbor, please refer them to Balancing the Basin. We always welcome new readers.

Be safe out there. Remember everyone should wear a life jacket anytime they are in, on, or near the water.

~ Billy Birdwell, Corporate Communications Office


About U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multimillion 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
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