A drawdown of Lake Murray is scheduled to begin in October to control aquatic weeds and water quality. Lowering of the lake will continue until it reaches an elevation target in the 350-foot range by mid-December, remaining at that elevation until about the end of January 2019. SCE&G is planning the drawdown in consultation with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
The drawdown is designed to aid in curbing the growth of nuisance aquatic vegetation, including southern naiad and slender pondweed. These weeds grow in shallow coves and often wrap around boat propellers. Lowering lake levels will expose the plants to dehydration and freezing temperatures. The drawdown will also push unwanted sediments, which help these weeds grow, into deeper levels of the lake.
During the Saluda Hydro relicensing process, stakeholders identified and agreed to periodic drawdowns as necessary to maintain good water quality. Prior to the drawdown, SCE&G will meet with lake stakeholders to discuss its benefits.
“To keep the lake healthy, the water level needs to be lowered periodically to allow rainfall to scour the shallow coves, washing sediments into the deeper part of the lake,” said Jim Landreth, vice president of Fossil and Hydro Plant Operations. “The sediments have unwanted nutrients that allow weeds to grow, which eventually becomes troublesome to the water quality and boaters.”
Although the public will continue to have access to the lake, boaters are advised to use caution during the low-water period. Areas of the lake with typically higher water levels will become shallow and will not have hazard markers. Lake residents and businesses are encouraged to make dock repairs and shoreline improvements during this time.
Lake Murray is expected to return to its normal elevation of 358 feet by spring 2019. For more information, call SCE&G Lake Management at 803-217-9221.