Lower lake levels could benefit residents, fish species

Elyssa Parnell Staff Writer

December 25, 2013

PROSPERITY — Driving near or around Lake Murray this holiday season you might have noticed the water levels are very low compared to what they were just a few short months ago.

To enhance the water quality of Lake Murray, South Carolina Electric and Gas has gradually lowered the lake. The project began in early November. The lake was lowered to reach a level of 350 feet. It will be maintained at that level until Jan. 1, 2014, after which it will be allowed to rise back to the normal high pool level of 358 feet.

In years past, periodic draw-downs to similar levels were conducted that allowed rain to “scour” shallow coves which greatly benefits water quality. The last draw-down such as this was conducted in 2006, according to SCE&G.

“The draw-down if the lake has been determined, through the best available science, to be good for the health of the lake, i.e., to maintain a high level of water quality,” said Bob Perry, director of the office of environmental programs for the South Carolina department of natural resources.

The objective of SCE&G is to implement winter draw-downs periodically when conditions are optimum to restore lake levels. This is the first year in the past several years when these conditions have occurred, according to Perry.

“Our objective is to benefit the long term water quality of Lake Murray,” said Jim Landreth, vice president of SCE&G’s Fossil and Hydro Plant Operations. “This method has proven effective in the past, but Mother Nature has not allowed us this type of draw-down for awhile. The time has come for us to do it again.”

“An added benefit to the draw-down is that this will give lake residents and businesses roughly a month at the lower level to make dock repairs and shoreline improvements that are permitted by SCE&G’s Lake Murray Shoreline Management Plan,” Landreth added.

The draw-down might also benefit certain fish species, according to Perry. There is evidence that a winter draw-down of a reservoir may benefit certain shoreline spawning species, such as crappie, once the reservoir returns to full pool in the spring.

Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at