Living on borrowed rain

The graphic shows the projected lake level for Hartwell assuming the sub-basin receives 80 percent of its average rainfall for the next 10 weeks.

The graphic shows the projected lake level for Hartwell on July 6, and assumes the sub-basin will receive 80 percent of its average rainfall for the next 10 weeks.

Now that it’s officially summer, the heat is on in more ways than one.

Namely, if the trend of sub-par precipitation doesn’t improve, the basin could enter drought level 1 before August. That same trajectory would bring us to drought level 2 before October.

If this seems alarming, consider that the equations used to estimate these dates assume the basin will receive 80 percent of the average monthly rainfall, which has only happened once since February.

In June, Hartwell & Russell received about 35 percent of their average rainfall (1.7 inches versus a 4.8 inch average, and 1.4 versus a 3.8 average, respectively), while Thurmond collected 3 inches toward its 3.8-inch average.

The result? Hartwell’s net inflows are currently 29 percent of normal; Thurmond’s a mere 7 percent.

As we noted in a previous post, dry conditions can exacerbate the situation and make the reservoirs less responsive to rainfall when it does finally come.

These dire drought predictions could seem all too Chicken Little, which compounds the irony, as the sky falling is precisely what the basin needs.

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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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