The good, the bad, and the possible

The graph shows Lake Hartwell’s projected levels through April. The basin recently entered Drought Level I after rainfall pushed lake levels two feet above Drought Level 2.

Lake lovers got their Valentine’s Day gift last week from Mother Nature as Lake Hartwell pushed past its February rainfall average and the Savannah River Basin finally entered Drought Level 1.

The achievement brings the basin one step closer to recovering from the drought that began more than two years ago.

All the recent cloudiness has brightened the outlook for the next 10 weeks.

Stan Simpson, water manager for Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the basin should be halfway between Drought Level 1 and the guide curve – just two feet below full pool – by April.

The basin had been in Drought Level 2 since October 2016. The water manual requires Hartwell and Thurmond reservoirs be two feet above Drought Level 2 to shift into Drought Level 1 operations. This also increases the minimum weekly average release rates to 4,200 cfs.

In the three months leading up to February, the rainfall was dismal but got progressively better.

Each of the sub-basins made strides in January, collecting more than 80 percent of their average; Hartwell was out in front with 4.3 inches (compared to its 5.2-inch average), while Thurmond and Russell received 3.6 and 3.5 inches, respectively (both compared to a 4.3-inch average).


While 80 percent of average isn’t ideal, it’s a step up from the previous months, which were as low as 18 to 40 percent of the monthly average.

As we look to the rest of February and March, traditionally two of the wettest months, here’s hoping that the future is a brighter shade of overcast.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, 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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