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Corps of Engineers releases draft changes to drought plan, seeks public comments

Posted by on June 21, 2017

Officials from the Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District released a draft report containing recommendations to improve management of water resources in the Savannah River during drought.

The study put together detailed information to determine “the amount of flow required during severe and prolonged drought.” Officials seek comments on the study and updated drought plan before determining the final course of action. Government agencies, industry, civic groups and individuals may submit comments through noon Eastern Time July 13, 2017.

The Corps, along with its study partners, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy, examined six different alternatives to manage water during drought, comparing each to keeping the current plan. The recommended alternative, labeled “Alternative 2” achieves the most positive impacts and the least negative impacts to the water resources compared to each of the others.

Under the recommended alternative, drought trigger level 3 rises 6 feet bringing the most restrictive outflows into play much earlier in drought. In addition trigger level 1 would remain constant year-round as opposed to dipping in relation to the winter drawdown. This has the effect of possibly reducing outflows sooner than the current plan. Alternative 2 also keeps level 2 flat year-round reducing flows further, sooner than in the current plan.

The release of the draft report marks the second interim of the Savannah River Basin Comprehensive Study, which started in 2012. This study includes an environmental assessment of the alternatives. The recommended plan would update the Savannah District’s Drought Contingency Plan. The drought plan directs water managers and others on how to use and conserve resources when drought strikes the region.

The alternative recommended for adoption makes some significant changes to water management during drought.

“Of the six new alternatives studied, the group recommended one with the greatest benefit to the greatest number of purposes assigned to the three Savannah District reservoirs,” Nathan Dayan, the study’s Environmental Team Lead, said. “We examined impacts to the environment, economics, recreation, hydropower, water supply and water quality, and downstream navigation.”

“Both states worked alongside The Nature Conservancy and the Corps of Engineers to make this a true partnership in adding to our knowledge of the Savannah River Basin and in updating the drought contingency plan,” Dayan said.

The public can send comments about the draft report through noon Eastern Time July 13, 2017, to the Planning Division, Attn: Nathan Dayan by FAX to 912-652-5787, by emailing, or by written comments to: Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Planning Branch, ATTN: Mr. Nathan Dayan (PD), 100 West Oglethorpe Avenue, Savannah, Georgia 31401-3640.

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