Sunday, April 9, 2017

USACE to initiate drought operations on Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District (USACE), announced today that the district will initiate drought operations in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Basin. Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions continue to persist throughout the basin.

The recently updated ACF water control manuals, approved March 30, include a revised Drought Contingency Plan that initiates drought operations when the Federal reservoir projects’ composite conservation storage reaches Zone 3 instead of the lower Zone 4. The Federal reservoirs along the ACF Basin have been in Zone 3 since Jan. 29 when the USACE announced that drought operations would be initiated this spring if conditions didn’t improve.

“By entering drought operations, the minimum flow into the Apalachicola River to protect threatened and endangered species becomes 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs),” said District Public Affairs Officer Lisa Hunter. “Provisions of the ACF drought plan allow us to maintain this minimum flow and store all available rainfall, when possible, until the basin recovers sufficiently to come out of drought operations.”

Current releases to the Apalachicola River from the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam are approximately 12,100 cfs. As conditions allow, the USACE will begin slowly reducing releases to 5,000 cfs. The overall conditions in the Flint Basin and Chattahoochee Basin are abnormally dry. Today, Lake Sydney Lanier is at level 1,061.4, which is 8.6 feet below the reservoir regulation full pool. West Point and Walter F. George reservoirs have benefited from the recent rainfall, and pool levels are above normal.

“Because the West Point and Walter F. George reservoirs are above normal pool levels and normal rainfall is forecasted this week, reduced releases from the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam will not occur immediately.” Hunter said. “Drought operations improve the likelihood for refilling the reservoirs, while still meeting the habitat requirements for the threatened and endangered species.”

The Mobile District’s conservation reservoir operation has enabled water conservation at West Point and Walter F. George. Lake Lanier, which is currently in Zone 4, is the main driver triggering the drought operations, Hunter explained. It is unusual initiate drought operations when two of the three reservoirs are full, but doing so provides the opportunity to conserve water as conditions are expected to get worse.

Due to low lake levels on the Federal reservoirs along the ACF Basin, recreational users are reminded to exercise caution at all times and to always wear personal flotation devices.


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