By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District has reduced outflows from the three reservoirs it operates on the upper Savannah River Basin in response to water levels reaching Drought Level Three, including Lake Hartwell.
Currently, Lake Hartwell is at 645 ft above mean sea level. That is 15 feet below full pool, leaving many of lake’s inlets high and dry, with docks and boats sitting on grass and mud.
According to the Corps, water managers will gradually reduce outflows from 3,800 cubic feet per second to 3,100 cubic feet per second, based on a maximum daily average.
The process of flow reduction to 3,100 cubic feet per second began late last week. Outflows are scheduled to be reduced to 3,200 cubic feet per second by Friday. Beginning Saturday, Nov. 10, the target will be 3,100 cubic feet per second through January.
Officials say that a gradual reduction in flow allows the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor the progress of the freshwater mussels adjusting to the shifting water level on the river banks.
In the meantime, Corps officials remind the public extensive recreation opportunities still remain available on all three reservoir lakes and surrounding areas.
However, Corps officials and officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources remind everyone that due to the low lake level, people should exercise caution when boating and swimming and wear life jackets when in, on, or near the water.
Officials add that due to the lower reservoir levels, hazards such as tree stumps and other obstructions, normally far underwater are near or above the surface, noting that for boaters, the centerline of the reservoir channel is the safest place to operate.
The Corps of Engineers updates the status of boat ramps at the reservoirs weekly on the Savannah District website.
For Hartwell, go here.