SAVANNAH, Ga. – The three reservoirs on the upper Savannah River Basin operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, declared the second flow reduction in two months in response to the pool elevation at Lake Thurmond dipping below Drought Trigger Level 2, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
The current pool elevations for November 1, 2023, are 653.50 feet above mean sea level (ft-msl) for Lake Hartwell, and 323.34 ft-msl for Lake Thurmond.
The drought management plan was developed based on scientific data and in coordination with various state, federal, local agencies and public input. To view the chart for trigger action levels, visit Drought Trigger Action Levels. To view the plan, click Drought Plan.
The Corps limits outflow from Thurmond Dam to a daily average of 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) after entering Drought Trigger Level 2, and as of November 1, 2023, outflows were further reduced to 3,600 cfs as part of the wintertime flow reduction which will continue through January 31, 2024.
Water managers also adjust Lake Hartwell releases as needed to stay in balance with Lake Thurmond. Reducing outflow decreases the amount of hydropower generated through the dams but conserves more water in the reservoirs.
The three reservoirs on the Upper Savannah River operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, declared the first drought level Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in response to the pool elevation at J. Strom Thurmond Lake dipping below 326.0 ft-msl.
The pool elevations on Sept. 10 were 656.28 ft-msl at Lake Hartwell, and 325.98 ft-msl at Lake Thurmond. Under the current drought plan, the Corps limited outflow from Thurmond Dam to a daily average of 4,200 cfs, according to Drought Trigger Level 1.
Savannah River Basin rainfall totaled to about 48% of the average inflows for September-October 2023. The reservoirs have not experienced sustained inflows that low during those months since last year at this time.
June-August 2023 inflows (rain) were about 70% of the average inflows, and the reservoirs did not experience sustained inflows that low, during those months since June-August 2022.
Corps officials urge boaters to use extreme caution when on the reservoir. Rocks and tree stumps, normally deep underwater, will be closer to the surface, some just out of sight. These obstructions form a particular hazard in coves and along the shoreline. Boaters should use the main channel whenever possible. All reservoir visitors should wear a life jacket whenever in, on or near the water.
For more information about drought conditions in the Savannah Basin, please visit our frequently asked questions page at:
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