March 16, 2015

Ms. Sandy Campbell, Savannah District Army Corp of Engineers Natural Resources Program Manager, was introduced by Mr. Hamilton.  She explained to members her main responsibilities are shoreline and land management which include all the parks, marinas, and rights of way for utilities.   Using visual maps and graphs, Ms. Campbell presented a program updating members on major projects in the Savannah River Basin.  She began with the bigger basin issues: 

A) The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will deepen the harbor from 42’ to 47’ and lengthen the channel from 33 miles to 40 miles.  The purpose is to accommodate the girth of new post Panama generation 11 cargo vessels.  The first contract has been awarded and deepening will begin from the ocean end.  Environmental monitoring and studies are being conducted; monitoring will continue for 10 years post construction.  She advised as related to Lake Hartwell, operating principles as currently designed are in effect and this should not impact Hartwell lake levels.

B)  Plant Vogtle has been permitted by the GA DNR to withdraw a monthly average of 62 million gallons of water per day for their increasing needs for the 2 new nuclear reactors.  Noting members’ concerns of how both projects will affect water withdrawals from Lake Hartwell, Ms. Campbell assured that current regulations will be followed and those parameters govern water allowances.

C)  Clemson University Intelligent River Project is a real time data acquisition system used to monitor water quality and quantity.  Ms. Campbell defined the role of the Corps is to manage the basin rivers per Federal and State regulations and the storage of water from dams.  States own the water and govern water releases per a permitting process.  The Corps dams generate electricity from the mandated water releases.  As it has not been funded, the Corps cannot subscribe to River Project data at this time.

d)  Duke Energy has applied for another 50 year operating agreement for their hydroelectric station.  The new updated licensing agreement allows Duke to release water at a slower rate during drought periods.  Should the lake fall to level 3 & 4 drought stages, the slower release means Duke would still have water to release helping the Basin below them. 

e)  Hartwell Lake Management’s goal is to minimize personal impact on the lake by maintaining necessary natural filters to keep the lake water healthy and clean.  Hartwell Lake is consistently in the top 3 of the most visited  Corps lakes.  76% of shoreline is open and each ranger manages approximately 200 permits and inspecting 35% of all renewals.  2014 brought several serious cases of abuse of shoreline permits.  A review and update of the shoreline management plan and regulations should begin next year.  Concluding she reminded all property owners to be familiar with the management plan and contact her or their ranger with questions or concerns.

Ms. Campbell welcomed questions after each topic and this exchange also proved to be enlightening.