Corps Says Savannah Drought Operations Over

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday afternoon they are ending drought operations on Lakes Hartwell, Russell, and Thurmond.

According to the Corps, Lake Hartwell reached 658 feet above mean sea level on April 29 and Lake Thurmond reached 328 feet above mean sea level on Tuesday.

Officials said that once both Hartwell and Thurmond both reached those levels, that put the dams in what the Corps calls “normal operations” with no outflow restrictions.

The Corps stated that under normal operations, all of the congressionally mandated purposes of the reservoirs can be met. Those include flood risk reduction, hydropower production, downstream navigation, recreation, water supply, water quality, and fish and wildlife management.

According to the Corps, the last time Thurmond was above 328 feet above mean sea level was March 30, 2011.

Officials credited the widespread rainfall in the region, stating that inflows were almost 10 times as much as the Corps was releasing resulting in rapid increases in the lake levels. As of this morning, downtown Toccoa has received more than 32 inches of rain for the year so far. That is compared to less than 14 inches of rain at this time last year.

Savannah District Commander Colonel Jeff Hall predicted that the reservoirs will be full before Memorial Day and should remain full through at least June.

According to the Corps’ website, Lake Hartwell’s current elevation is 659.63 feet. Full pool is 660 feet.