U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hartwell Lake, buoys inspection results

USACE, Savannah District
Published June 22, 2023

HARTWELL LAKE, Ga. and S.C. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, recently conducted an “Aids to Navigation” inspection on Hartwell Lake to inventory all buoys, shoal markers and other navigational aids to ensure proper placement, working condition and visibility.

This annual inspection plays a vital role in boater and water safety for the millions of visitors to Hartwell Lake, and this year numerous unauthorized orange ball buoys were discovered adjacent to private boat docks. These buoys were primarily installed by dock owners to promote distance between vessels under operation and their moored vessels or docks. 

The Corps would like to remind anyone on or around the lake, orange ball buoys are considered unauthorized structures subject to removal or impoundment. However, prior to impounding them, the Corps would like to ask those who have placed orange ball buoys in the water to remove them voluntarily. Corps’ Park Rangers will conduct follow-up inspections in the coming weeks and any unauthorized buoy found at that time will be removed.

Per Title 36, Chapter 111, Section 327.20 (Title 36), the placement or existence of any structure, i.e., buoys, docks, roads, trails, signs, non-portable hunting stands or blinds, and/or landscape features of any kind that are under, upon, in or over federal project lands or waters (Lake Hartwell and surrounding land) are prohibited unless a permit, lease, license or other appropriate written authorization has been issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Commander.

For the safety of boaters and others, all boat operators are encouraged to familiarize themselves with local, state and federal regulations. The existing state laws in South Carolina and Georgia require all vessels on Hartwell Lake to be at idle speed within 100 feet of an anchored vessel, wharf, pier, dock, or a person in the water (SC Sec. 50-21-870 SC Law and GA O.C.G.A Title 52, Chapter 7 GA Law).  Additionally, a new South Carolina law prohibits “wake surfing” on all its waters when within 200 feet of a dock, a person in the water or an anchored watercraft.

For more information, contact the Hartwell Lake Office toll-free at 888-893-0678, ext. 0352. Save a life – Wear a life jacket – Boat Safely.

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

Release no. 23-011