Why Santee Cooper Discharges Water:

Discussion in 'SOUTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by blackwaterkatz, May 11, 2009.

  1. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    I've been asked a few times how the water discharges are managed from Lake Moultrie, in particular, into the Santee and Cooper Rivers. In case there may be someone else who has the same question, I decided to post a brief explanation here, as I understand it. I work for the Fresh Water Fisheries group at SCDNR, and the flows through both the Rediversion Canal into the Santee River and the Pinopolis Dam into the Cooper River have an effect on what we do:

    The water discharge from Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie is totally controlled by Santee Cooper, depending on lake levels, power demands, etc. DNR doesn't have a lot of influence on them, although we do make requests for water flows through the rediversion during the fish lift season, in order to have adequate attraction flows to help bring the spawning Blueback Herring and American Shad into the fish lift. During drought years, we get very little flow from them. They also operate the lock gates at Pinopolis several times a day during that time to allow fish passage from the Cooper River into Lake Moultrie
    The discharge through the rediversion canal is tightly controlled, depending on SC's target for lake levels. When levels are high, such as they have been this spring, then more water is sent through the turbines there, in order to control lake levels. When the lake levels drop to or below target, then flows will stop or slow down through the St. Stephen generating station.
    The Army Corps of Engineers mandates a minimum daily average flow through the Pinopolis dam (Jeffries Hydroelectric) in order to keep salt water from backing too far up the Cooper River, which would be detrimental to industries that use water from there, therefore, we have daily discharges into the tail race canal.
    There is also a minimum mandated discharge into the old Santee River below the dam on Lake Marion, in order to keep Santee River from becoming stagnate. The only time water is discharged through the Santee dam is when lake levels experience a rapid rise that can't entirely be controlled by discharging through Pinopolis or St. Stephen. This would be considered wasted water by Santee Cooper, since there is no generating facility at Santee Dam, other than a small turbine that uses the mandated minimum daily flow.
    The best way to know when water will be released is to call the Santee Cooper Lakes Information Hot Line at 1-800-92LAKES. The recorded message (updated daily around 10am) gives current inflows into the lakes, and estimated generating schedules for that day and the next.
    You can also look online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/sc/nwis/u...on&format=gif_stats&period=7&site_no=02171645 for discharges on the Rediversion, which may help establish a pattern, and at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/sc/nwis/uv/?site_no=02172002&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062 for info on the tailrace at Pinopolis.
    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/sc/nwis/current/?type=flow&format=pre gives streamflow and lake levels for the entire state.
     
  2. rivercatsc

    rivercatsc New Member

    Messages:
    1,990
    State:
    South Caro
    Once again very useful great info Tommy. These are the things that make this site so good.
     

  3. deerhntr22

    deerhntr22 New Member

    Messages:
    91
    State:
    Greenville, SC
    Yes...very useful..especially for people like me that are fairly new to the Santee system.
     
  4. krowbar

    krowbar New Member

    Messages:
    664
    State:
    South Caro
    Appreciate the info Tommy and glad you posted this so all the BOC can read. I asked earlier because the bite right now is so much better when their pulling good water flow compared to when their not pulling water. It's almost like night and day. I've noticed that catfish will hold up on either end of the diversion canal when their not pulling water and move into the canal and feed aggresively when they turn the pumps on. WHY ???? Are they moving into the canals to feed or are they migrating through the canal between the lakes to spawning grounds or what? Not sure why but this time of the year that seems to be the pattern. 1 part of the bigger picture I reckon. Anybody got any ideas on this please post in for all to read.
     
  5. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    I should have added above that when the generation plants draw water, the current induced in the diversion canal attracts catfish to feed on the baitfish and mussels that come through there, as well as a current for the blueback herring, shad and other migrating spawners to follow upstream. There is a little lag time from the time turbines are started up until the current begins moving in the canal, but I don't fish the canal enough to know what that lag is.
     
  6. jim

    jim New Member

    Messages:
    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    Tommy I'll be at Canal Lakes Sat morning(23rd) in time for breakfast.If you can come on over I'm buying and I might have a few freebies for you.If you see Roundhill tell him I still have his snakebite medicine and I'll bring it with me.Havent seen you all in a while so I'm looking forward to it.Anybody else down there at the same time come on over and have breakfast with us.:big_smile:
     
  7. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    I'll mark it on my calendar, Jim. Haven't seen you for quite a while, so I'll try to be there if I can. I'll pass the word to the Roundhill when I talk with him, too. :big_smile:
     
  8. krowbar

    krowbar New Member

    Messages:
    664
    State:
    South Caro
    That makes sense. I did mark some good baitfish last week when they were pulling water. We did pretty good too. Thanks for the info Tommy. Spot on as usual.