Collins endorses Corps drought contingency plan

By Michael Isom, Staff writer

The Hartwell Sun, July 20, 2017

​Congressman Doug Collins submitted a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District Commander Colonel Marvin Griffin in which he endorses the option of alternative two for the tentatively selected plan for drought contingency at Lakes Hartwell and Richard
B. Russell.

Alternative two is among a total of six options considered by the Corps after re-evaluating
the drought contingency plan.

According to the Corps’ June 2017 interim study two, each of the six alternatives includes various elevation triggers and required releases from the dams and were devised
from computer model simulations, economic analysis and environmental assessment.

Collins reviewed the Corps’ comprehensive study and environmental assessment and determined that alternative two would produce the highest positive impact on the Savannah River Basin (SRB) and least negative impact on the surrounding environment.

“We just focused on the one that we felt like, after listening to our constituents and the people that have impact for us, we felt this was the best alternative,” Collins told The Hartwell Sun.

According to the letter, the highest possible water levels will be maintained under alternative two during level one and level two drought conditions. If implemented, the plan will improve recreational opportunities by reducing the amount of time public boat ramps will be unusable
during drought conditions from 11.4 percent to 10.7 percent and the number of days public
beaches are closed from 103 to 94 per year.

The interim report also reflected that areas downstream would not have a negative environmental effect by the reduction in water released from the dam.

In addition, alternative two would raise the trigger point for a level three drought from 646 feet to 652 feet on Lake Hartwell, which would allow for additional water conservation efforts to go into effect earlier during times of drought.

Collins also emphasized in his letter that alternative two would be the best option for hydropower as well due to it being the only alternative of the six analyzed that would result
in a 0.05% increase in hydropower output.

“It really strikes the proper balance that we need to have in our Corps lakes,” said Collins.

According to Collins, the Corps will continue to gather information and come up with a finalized plan for the SRB.

“We’re excited just to continue to move the process along,” said Collins.