Lake level causes Corps to run turbines overtime

Even though the torrential rains experienced over the past couple of weeks are now gone, it hasn’t stopped flood watches and advisories from being issued.

Excess runoff from lakes in Rabun County due to last week’s heavy rainfall is now flowing downstream into Lake Hartwell and as a result, Lake Hartwell’s pool is nearing its crest.

As of Wednesday, Lake Hartwell’s level stood at 663.24 feet above mean sea level. That’s just over three feet above full pool and foot higher than this time last week, which could result in some minor flooding along the lake’s shorelines.

Corps of Engineers spokesman Billy Birdwell says the turbines at the Hartwell Dam are running overtime to keep the lake from reaching flood stage of 665 ft msl.

It could go a little bit higher, but we’re running the generators almost around the clock. We’re even running the turbines over the weekend. We don’t normally run the generators on Saturday and Sunday on Lake Hartwell, but we’re starting this weekend,” Birdwell said.

Because the lake is so high right now many living on the lake have seen their docks swamped by rising waters, others have had trees fall along the shoreline.

Birdwell says if a property owner on Lake Hartwell has had damage, such as flooding or fallen trees, they should contact the Lake Hartwell Project office in Hartwell.

You have to keep in mind, we own the property,” Birdwell explained. “We own the property up to and above 665 feet. So, it there is any flooding, it’s really not in their yards, it’s on our property. They need to report that to our Hartwell Lake Project office. And let the natural resources specialists know about it and where it is. That number is, 706-856-0300 or toll-free 888-893-0678.

Birdwell also advises property owners along the lake to remove any of their personal items from Corps property such as boating equipment, lawn furniture, grills, etc. until the water level recedes.

The good news, however, according to Birdwell is that the Corps is expecting levels on Lake Hartwell to gradually go down over the next ten days, bringing it back into the normal range.