Corps tests spillway gates at Russell Dam, Thurmond Dam June 13-14

USACE, Savannah District
Published June 12, 2023

SAVANNAH, GA – U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, dam safety officials are testing the spillway gates at two hydropower dams on the Savannah River this week, and the releases will have minimal effect on reservoir levels.

The first test is Tuesday, June 13, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Richard B. Russell Lake Dam. The inspection team will open all ten spillway gates two feet. The test will take approximately one hour to complete.

The second test is Wednesday, June 14, beginning at 9 a.m. at J. Strom Thurmond Lake Dam. The inspection team will open all 23 spillway gates two feet. The test will take approximately two hours to complete.

The public may come out to watch at both test locations. However, all visitors must stay out of the water downstream of the dams due to strong currents and heavy turbulence. Also, drones are not allowed near or above the dams, including in adjoining parks. Based on past tests, crowds are expected and safety precautions should be taken by all who go to watch or are driving through the area.

For the Russell Dam test, the public may park in designated parking areas below the dam on the Georgia side of the river. Motorists must not park on public roads and cannot stop on the dam. Pedestrian access to the fishing pier area will be closed due to safety concerns. The address for the Russell Dam Project is 4144 Russell Dam Drive, Elberton, Ga., and the best observation area is on Russell Dam Drive.

For the Thurmond Dam test, the best locations are at the end of West Dam Park Road on the Georgia side or the Below Dam Recreation Area, off Anniversary Circle on the South Carolina side. Due to safety concerns, vehicles must not park along public roads. Also, motorists will not be allowed to stop when crossing the dam and should watch closely for pedestrians. Pedestrians should not stand on the road and should use extreme caution if watching from the sidewalks on top of the dam. 

These spillway gate tests are occurring just two weeks after National Dam Safety Awareness Day, which was established on May 31, to commemorate the 1889 failure of South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.


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Cheri Pritchard, Senior Public Affairs Specialist
912-677-6039 (cell)

Release no. 23-010