Georgetown Co. residents anticipating flooding after dam spilling operations

Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:03 PM EST
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Santee Cooper officials say heavy precipitation throughout the area in addition to the watershed feeding the Santee Cooper Lakes has increased inflows to the Santee Cooper Lakes system.

It’s prompted Santee Cooper to conduct what they call a controlled spilling operation at the Santee Dam on Lake Marion. It’s when they release water from the dam.

Georgetown County Councilman Everett Carolina and other residents say they’re concerned about the impacts the spilling operation could have on their properties.

“It’s an ongoing situation, it’s nerve-wracking you’re at a high alert when these things happen,” Carolina said.

Last February, parts of the county including the North Santee community and some other low-lying areas experienced major flooding. Some homes on Crow Hill Drive were only accessible by boat and some homes were flooded.

Residents say the flooding came after Santee Cooper’s release of water at the Santee Dam in 2020.

“We are the last location from the last hydro-dam in the 400-mile system and as water comes downhill, we become victims of the spillage or the release of water,” Carolina said.

Georgetown County officials say based on the current forecast they are anticipating localized flooding to occur in the area of Harris Landing, the lower side of Corner Loop and the Crow Hill community. They say impacts are expected to be far less than what was experienced last year.

County officials say the current forecast from the National Weather Service shows the Santee River cresting on the Friday evening February evening at 17.8 feet, which is on the lower end of moderate flood stage.

The forecasted crest for next Friday is 5.5 feet below the peak crest from last year’s flooding which was 23.37 feet on February 14, 2020, according to county officials.

County leaders say they will continue to closely monitor the situation until river levels are back to normal because things are subject to change.

“Whatever remedy that we can come up that will help remedy the situation for the people along the North Santee, we are looking forward to dialogue and to make some improvements,” Carolina said.

Carolina would Santee Cooper to redirect some of the water from coming in the Georgetown communities.

Santee Cooper says the Army Corps of Engineers restricts the flow of water down the Cooper River. They say the rest of the water entering Lake Marion must be discharged into the Santee River.

Santee Cooper officials say spill rates will continue to be adjusted during this operation depending on inflows. They say their dams and dikes are secure and that spilling is a normal part of their hydro operations in periods of increased inflows into the lakes. You can find the latest information regarding the spilling operation on the lake’s information line at 1-800-92LAKES.

Santee Cooper provided the following information:

There is potential for property flooding in Georgetown, especially in low-lying areas – the level of flooding will be somewhat dependent on the impact of the tides. Flooding will impact Harris Landing Road in Georgetown County and will possibly impact Corner Loop Road as well based on the river forecast from the Southeastern River Center forecasters. There are a number of houses in the floodplain in both areas, and there will be flooding in some yards and travel on roads may become difficult. There is also a potential for flooding in the Crow Hill Subdivision. Detailed information can be found on the NWS gauge for the Santee River near Jamestown.

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