Thurmond Lake remains open and safe after sewage spill; only small area impacted

Published July 18, 2018

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Swim beaches, boat ramps, campgrounds and other recreation areas at Thurmond Lake remain open and safe today after a sewage spill in McCormick County contaminated a small area of water and shoreline Monday.


County officials estimate about 90,000 gallons of sewage spilled from a pipeline around the Little River Bridge on Highway 378. Some of the sewage reached into Thurmond Lake, impacting approximately 2 miles of shoreline out of the 1,200 miles of shoreline around the reservoir.


“Even if all 90,000 gallons of sewage entered the water, that amounts to 0.000016 percent of the estimated 563 billion (with a “b”) gallons of water in the reservoir,” Scott Hyatt, Thurmond Project Manager, said. “The spillage only affected a small area.”


Officials at Thurmond Lake routinely monitor water quality at its swim beaches. They conducted a water check after the spill – a check previously scheduled. They await the results of the tests. Some of the beaches are on the Georgia side of the reservoir which is not impacted by the spill. Corps-operated swim beaches on the South Carolina side of the reservoir are miles away from spill. Residents in the immediate area of the spill should heed the advice of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and local authorities on use of the reservoir near their homes.


“Visitors to the vast majority of Thurmond Lake do not need to change their recreation plans due to the impacts to this small area,” Hyatt said. “Media reports that state officials closed Thurmond Lake to swimming are exaggerated.”


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake, the largest manmade reservoir east of the Mississippi River.




Billy Birdwell, Senior Public Affairs Specialist
912-677-6039 (cell)

Release no. 18-030