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#06-306 November 13, 2006

Moderate drought status maintained for Savannah River Basin

State and local Drought Response Committee members maintained a “moderate” drought for the Savannah River Basin during a conference call meeting Wednesday, November 8, 2006, in Columbia based on the hydrologic conditions in the basin. The consensus was to maintain a moderate drought designation in Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, Abbeville, McCormick, Edgefield, Aiken, Barnwell, Allendale, Hampton and Jasper Counties.

The state and local representatives of the West Drought Response Committee declared a moderate drought on September 20, 2006.  Moderate drought means there is a continued threat of drought as demonstrated by the drought indices. According to Hope Mizzell, South Carolina State Climatologist, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers’ drought designations and what Duke Energy are observing in the basin were the primary factors influencing the Committee’s decision to maintain a moderate drought designation.

“The long-term rainfall deficit in the Upstate isn’t leaving us much in the way of maneuvering room,” said Freddy Vang, DNR deputy director of the Land, Water and Conservation Division. “What we need to see is a significant change in rainfall over the winter, otherwise, the situation will continue to deteriorate. 

According to Bud Badr, the State Hydrologist, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains at DroughtSC drought map Stage 2 and may reach level 3 by mid-February 2007 based on their current projections.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reduced the flow from Lake Thurmond to 3,800 cubic feet per second (cfs).  This helps retain more water within the system and balance the flows from the Duke lakes. 

Bill Stroud, Duke Power hydro manager, “We can’t recover Keowee and Jocasse until Hartwell andThurmond are fully recovered.” Duke Power built and controls Lakes Keowee and Jocassee, “For us it makes sense to maintain the moderate drought in the Savannah Basin.”

Mizzell explained the moderate declaration does not require any mandatory action by public water systems or the public, but all water systems in the Savannah should take the opportunity to review their local drought plans and ordinances and where needed implement accordingly. 

The call concluded with committee members agreeing to continue monitoring the situation closely and call a meeting as needed with weekly email updates of data from the Office of State Climatology.  For more information about drought, visit the Office of State Climatology Web site at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or contact State Climatologist Hope Mizzell at (803) 734-9100 in Columbia.
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