Savannah River continues to rise as more water is released from the dam

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, July 8th, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As the rain continues to fall, water levels continue to rise.

The Savannah River is overflowing into yards, the parking lot at the 5th street marina, even covering trails on the North Augusta Greenway.

"This is probably he highest that I've ever seen it before by a couple of feet for sure," said Reid Hair, who lives on the river in Fury's Plantation.

He and his neighbors have been watching the river level rise for almost a week now

"Every single dock is covered," he explained.

He says their boat ramp is also about four feet underwater.

Monday the US Army Corp of Engineers began releasing even more water into the river to keep the lake from being too full.

"Basically this is Hartwell's water that's running off through three separate buckets. We're the last bucket in the chain so we're discharging it into the river," explained Park Ranger Jay Weidman.

Sunday they were releasing 20 thousand cubic feet per second, but Monday they increased it to 30,000, a number that should remain steady for the next week.

"It's a condition people are not used to seeing since it's been a while," said Weidman. "Just be aware that the river is high, the current is moving a lot faster than most people are probably used to seeing."

Greg Wilson saw that first hand on his boat today.

"The current's real fast. probably 10 times normal and there's a lot of debris so if you're boating definitely gotta look out," he explained.

With more rain in the forecast Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus is asking people to stay off the river.

"It's only gonna get worse over the next couple of days," said Bonitatibus.

"There's no way to prepare for it," added Hair.

So now he and his neighbors will just have to wait it out, "you just keep your fingers crossed that it's not gonna get that close to the foundation of the house."

On Thursday the Corp of Engineers will be letting out even more water. They are doing a test of the flood gates. They will open up all 23 gates and let water flow through.They say they won't determine the exact amount of water that will be released until then.

They haven't done a test since March 2007 because of the drought. They say its really a sight to see.

The test will go from 1:30pm to 4pm. Anyone can go watch it from the parks below the dam, but the boat ramps near the dam will be closed.

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