Columbia, S.C., Sept. 14, 2004 - As marinas and homeowners work to move their docks back to their original locations, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) anticipates a challenge in keeping levels near elevation 351 feet due to projected heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ivan.
Weather projections through the end of the week call for an additional three to five inches of rainfall in the areas surrounding Lake Murray.
Lake levels have risen as high as 352 with the additional rainfall from Hurricane Frances. While a rising lake level is a positive sign for many, giving property owners adequate time to relocate their docks is imperative. Equally important is giving the S.C. Department of Natural Resources the time it needs to move navigational buoys back to their original locations. Another 12 to 24 inches of water could send docks floating out into open water and present major safety issues for boaters.
"If dock owners haven't been able to move their docks yet, but can do so in the next couple of days, that would be a tremendous help," said Jim Landreth, vice president of fossil/hydro operations for SCE&G. "We're really very concerned about public safety and the problem of docks floating out into water ways and presenting a hazard."
SCE&G's FERC-approved plan calls for refilling Lake Murray in two separate stages. The first stage allowed the lake to begin rising near elevation 351 feet after foundation work on the backup dam was completed, which occurred in May.
The second step will allow the lake to begin rising to normal operating levels, which next spring should reach an elevation of around 358 feet. Starting now and as the lake continues to rise, dock owners are reminded that the temporary dock extensions will have to be removed.
To manage the lake level, SCE&G is running generation out of the Saluda Hydro plant in an effort to counter the recent impact of rains. At the same time, the company is monitoring dissolved oxygen levels in the Lower Saluda River and is constantly evaluating the impact of water being released from the generating plant on the health of fish downstream.
"It's a balancing act," said Landreth. "Hurricanes present our company with a range of issues to deal with. Right now with the ground saturated, we're having to run generation to manage near elevation 351 feet. We're also trying to generate as much as we can without negatively impacting the dissolved oxygen level in the river.
"Hopefully we can get through Hurricane Ivan without it negatively impacting the lake community or the dissolved oxygen levels in the Saluda. What we need is for the lake community to also help us by trying to relocate their docks as soon as they can.
"We have been mindful since beginning this project of what impact the drawdown would have on our neighbors and area businesses," Landreth said. "But safety was always our first concern, and it still is as docks and buoys are moved back to their original locations and we get the lake back to normal operating conditions."
SCE&G is the largest subsidiary of SCANA Corporation, an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations, telecommunications and other energy-related businesses. Information about SCANA and its businesses is available on the company's Web site at www.scana.com.