Lake Hartwell Lake Levels

Real Estate Agent with

A line of concerned home owners and business owners stretched out the door of Cateechee golf course on Friday at noon. All waiting to get into the ballroom to hear the U.S. Corp of Engineers speak about the water levels on Lake Hartwell.

Sandy Campbell head ranger had the daunting task of speaking to the public about the lake levels. A full house and 160 people turned away because the building had reached maximum capacity. 

The presentation started off with several slides of the lake's origination, and reasons for the lake.  1. Hydropower 2. Flood control 3. Navigation. Additions are recreation, fish & wildlife,  water supply and quality.  Then Mrs. Campbell got to the point of why the lake levels were dropping. The main reason is the dough. The area is not getting any rain to replace the water that is let out each day to generate power and for water supply and quality down stream. 

 During a drought they don't follow the rules of why the lake was build, immediately flood, and water supply & quality downstream takes presidence, over power. Hydropower is a bi product of the corp having to release the water down stream. Basically they have to release it so why not generate power while releasing the water 3,800 CFS per day.

Why does the corp release so much water each day? The permits they have issued to factories and places downstream are based on the releasing 3,600CFS of water per day. Additional permits are the City of Augusta for drinking water.  According to the corp they release this to push down stream the pollution from these factories that they have issued these permits to. This was the information given in the presentation.

 What does this mean for dwindling Lake Hartwell and the people here upstream? On Hartwell we are at a trigger level 3, 645 and 14ft down.  Hartwell feeds Russell, Russell feeds Thurmond and out to the ocean. Russell can only go down 5ft and still operate. Lake Thurmond can go down 15 ft and still operate. Lake Hartwell can go down 35ft and still operate. If the area doesn't get any rain in two weeks Lake Thurmond will reach it max capacity of 15ft below and at that point the cop can not release any more water from Thurmond.

At this point everyone in the room knew what was about to be said. So the corp. has to take most of the water that is let down stream from Lake Hartwell. According to the corp. starting at the first of September Lake Hartwell will drop one foot a week, and the projection is that if it doesn't rain it could be down 23.5 ft down by October 25th. This will shatter the record low of 17.6ft down Dec 24th 1981. At this point everyone in the room was shaking their head in disgust.

  Like the real estate market there must be a bottom to the amount of water that can come out of Hartwell and that number is 625 which is a trigger Level 4 at his point no more water is let out of Lake Hartwell and the people down stream are simply out of luck. Maybe at this point we can truly see if there is a need for so much water to be let out of Hartwell Lake.


A great question was ask by a member of the audience "Who are They" Mrs. Cambell kept referring to, they are telling us to keep letting out the same amount of water each day. Which brings up a good point could the amount of water that THEY keep telling the CORP to release be reduced because we are in a drought. The people downstream are not in a drought they are getting rain. The cornel of the corp. is aware of the concerns of water levels on Lake Hartwell. The problem is deciding who can change the rules of letting out the water. Is it the states or the federal level that controls this decision?

We need to contact our congress men and women to get them proactive in reducing the amount of water that is let out of Hartwell Dam each day. Please be kind ask our representatives to please help us preserve our lake levels.    

If you are in Georgia

Saxby Chambliss Contact

at the Capitol... Allen Powell

•· Suite 507 Coverdell Legislative Office Building Atlanta, GA 30334

• 404.656.0202

• in the District... PO Box 248 Hartwell, GA 30643 706.376.4422 - Office

 at the Capitol... Jeanette Jamieson   Suite 507 Coverdell Legislative      Office Building Atlanta, GA 30334   404.656.0202

•·  in the District... PO Box 852 Toccoa, GA 30577

• 706.886.6889 - Office 706.886.1168 - Home 706.886.9390 - Fax

South Carolina

  Gresham Barrett Contact

 I would like to end on a good note. The corp. did say that in previous drought conditions it only took lake Hartwell about 6 months to recharge or regain water levels. Sandy referred to a day in September 2003 when the lake came up 5ft in two days.

The corp. is a division on the U.S. Army and they take orders and do what they are told. Visit my site for more information.


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