UPDATED ON 6: Persistent, Heavy Rainfall Results In Higher Relea - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

UPDATED ON 6: Persistent, Heavy Rainfall Results In Higher Releases From J. Strom Thurmond Dam, Facility Closures

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***UPDATED at 2:13 P.M. on Wednesday, July 10th***

Excessive rainfall continues to fall throughout the Savannah River Basin, which will result in a scheduled increase of water releases at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam around that was scheduled to begin at noon Wednesday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent WJBF News Channel 6 the following information release:

"The Richard B. Russell and Thurmond sub basins along with the area immediately beneath Thurmond Dam received approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall in the last 12 hours, prompting an increase in outflows from 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 37,000 cfs by noon today. Combined with localized inflows below Thurmond dam, the river flow near Augusta could reach flows as high as 45,000 cfs today. The upper pool above the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam could reach as high as 117 feet above mean sea level (ft-msl) and sustain high velocities.

Last night's rain event contributes to the extraordinary volume of rainfall observed in the last 10 days, approaching nearly 600 percent of average for this time of year. The resulting conditions include extremely saturate soils, higher than normal inflows and water levels occupying the flood storage capacity of all three Savannah River Basin reservoirs: Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond.

As of 9 a.m. today elevation at Hartwell Lake was 664.5 (ft-msl), at Richard B. Russell, 479.1 ft.-msl, and at J. Strom Thurmond 332.2 ft.-msl.

"Safety remains our Number 1 priority as we conduct controlled releases of water in accordance with our water control manual," said Stan Simpson, Savannah District's Corps hydrologist. "This high water event will result in conditions that require caution for those in the surrounding areas."

Potentially hazardous conditions resulting from high water and increased flows include floating debris, submerged retaining walls and higher river velocity downstream of Thurmond Dam. Additional flooding is also expected in the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam Park and at Fury's Ferry.

There are also a number of Corps recreational facility closures in the Hartwell and Russell areas. These areas include:

At Lake Hartwell:

  • All courtesy docks and most ramps
  • Long Point Recreation Area
  • Asbury Recreation Area
  • Georgia River Campground and Recreation Area
  • Singing Pines Recreation Area – Loop to Shelter and Ramp Closed
  • South Carolina River Recreation Area
  • Broyles Recreation Area – Shelter Loop Closed
  • 12 Mile Recreation Area – Beach Loop Closed
  • Springfield Campground – Sites 12-18, 27-48 Closed
  • Oconee Point Campground – Sites 27, 41-42, 61-67 Closed
  • Watsadler Campground – Sites 2 - 5, 8, 27, 28 Closed

At Lake Russell:

  • All beaches
  • Power removed from gas dock and 80 slip docks in Beaver Dam
  • Lowest walkway at fishing pier below dam

Releases from Thurmond Dam will be conducted through the turbines and not the spillway gates to make efficient use of the water; however, the gate tests scheduled for Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond remain on schedule.

Water will be evacuated from flood storage levels over the next several weeks, targeting the guide curve at all three reservoirs, in accordance with the Corps water control manual. Guide curve levels for this time of year are 660 ft.-msl at Hartwell, 475 ft-msl at Russell and 330 ft.-msl at Thurmond. If higher-than-average rainfall continues it could take up to 45 days or more to reach guide curve at all reservoirs.

Daily updates continue to be posted on the Savannah District Facebook page and the district's Twitter feed.

The district's Water Manager's page remains down for repair; however, detailed information normally posted to that page is now being posted on the district's blog, Balancing the Basin. The public can visit the district's blog. Those who subscribe to the blog will receive regular email updates."


***POSTED at 11:21 A.M. on Wednesday, July 10th***

Wednesday is the day the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins releasing water from the J. Strom Thurmond Dam.

The release is scheduled to be at noon Wednesday, and the Corps of Engineers tells Columbia County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Pam Tucker the level of the Savannah River below the dam could be raised by 2 feet.

This release is in addition to the testing of the spillway gates on Thursday.

The Wednesday release will be the same amount as Thursday's scheduled release, according to the Corps of Engineers, which is about 37,000 cubic feet per second. Corps officials say Thursday's release will not raise the Savannah River's level, on top of what is expected Wednesday.

Wednesday's release will be from the generator, not the spillway, and the duration will be long term...with no end time given. Thursday's test will be from the spillway. Below is more detail from the Corps of Engineers:

"We are currently releasing 25000 cfs at Thurmond dam. It rained 1.5 inches on Thurmond basin and the local basin immediately below Thurmond dam last night. The river stage at Fury's Ferry last night climbed to about 19.8 feet. A flow of 25000 normally holds the stage there at roughly 19 feet. The Hartwell and Russell pools are essentially at the top of their flood storage pools. Thurmond climbed about 0.25 feet to 332.22 last night leaving only 2.8 feet of flood pool.

We are proposing increasing the Thurmond release to full plant generation around 37000 cfs. This will rise the river stage at butler creek about 2 feet. Anticipate the upper pool of the lock and dam rising to about 117.


Additional flooding in Lock and Dam Park
Additional flooding at Fury's Ferry (2 feet)
Pool should be below finished floor at Mason's Tree Farm

Advantage of increasing flow:

Will evacuate an additional foot of water from the Thurmond pool by this weekend.

Reason for change in release:

Track change in Tropical Storm Chantal targeting upper Hartwell basin"

Officials say the reason for these releases is that Lake Hartwell, Lake Russell, Lake Thurmond are all at their capacity and they have to create some capacity to allow these lakes to handle the rain expected from Tropical Storm Chantal.

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