U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, holds flood waters at J. Strom Thurmond Dam
SAVANNAH, Ga. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, implemented flood risk management operations at the J. Strom Thurmond Project Dam when rain exceeded forecasted levels through portions of Georgia and South Carolina, which caused the lake and downstream river to rise. Currently, inflows into Augusta and Thurmond are starting to decrease, and spillway gates do not need to be opened.
“Due to the recent rain events, all generation releases at the Thurmond Dam were curtailed April 7 when the rain exceeded the amounts forecasted,” said Kathryn Feingold, Savannah District Water Manager. “Our goal was to prevent further flooding impacts downstream of the dam. The current pool at Thurmond is 333.8 feet above mean sea level, and it appears the inflows into both Augusta and Thurmond Reservoir are decreasing, so we do not need to make any water releases through the gates at this time.”
The dam is functioning as designed; It’s holding as much water as possible through a rain event, and once the event has passed, hydropower generation releases are scheduled to resume at a non-damaging rate.
“The dams are operating the way they are intended to,” Feingold said. “They are holding rain and inflow from upriver so as to not further contribute to flooding downstream. The Corps continues to monitor the situation and will make any necessary changes to water releases, if needed, to ensure minimal impacts both upstream and downstream.”
With local inflows to Augusta decreasing, hydropower generation will resume at minimal releases beginning at 10 a.m. today, but that water won’t reach Augusta for 4-6 hours. As inflows through Augusta decrease, higher levels of generation may occur next week to evacuate the flood storage before the next rain event. The generation should not contribute to flooding, as the goal is to keep the flow through Augusta at approximately 32,000 cubic feet per second.
The Savannah River is currently flowing at 31,500 cfs through Augusta, and future updates can be found on the District website here: WaterManagement. For a visual of approximate inundation in the Augusta area from various Savannah River flows, please see the Savannah District inundation map viewer located here: https://water.sas.usace.army.mil/cf/AugustaInundation (best viewed in Google Chrome).
High water levels at Thurmond Lake have resulted in impacts to recreation areas, including park and campsite closures. Parksville Day Use Area has been temporarily closed due to road flooding. Visitors with reservations for impacted campsites are being notified directly by Thurmond Project staff and some campsites will not be available for reservation until lake levels decline. While boat ramps remain open, courtesy docks are not accessible, at this time. Updates to recreation area closures and impacts will be posted on the https://www.facebook.com/savannahcorps.