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Festivals and fish lifts in Santee Cooper Country

March 30, 2016   By Willard Strong in Santee Cooper Lakes

Springtime means more festivals (and fishing) around the Santee Cooper Lakes. (Photo by Jim Huff/Santee Cooper)

Ahh, spring. It's a great time to get out and enjoy the many festivals found in Santee Cooper Country.

You have your chance this weekend when the 25th annual St. Stephen Catfish Festival gets underway on April 1-3. Santee Cooper provides electrical service to St. Stephen, and the Catfish Festival is a Green Power event , meaning all the festival's power needs will be served by renewable energy from landfill gas generation, solar power and wind power.

Festival organizer Johnny Broome says this year's event features local entertainment, door prizes and "even helicopter rides along with our amusement rides." The festival is held at Alice Park, and it opens Friday at 4 p.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. the Nu Attitude band takes the festival's main stage.

On Saturday, the festival opens at 9 a.m. with puppets, dancers, a Michael Jackson tribute at 4 p.m. and the catfish stew judging. Catfish stew will be sold beginning at 5:20 p.m.... Continue Reading >>

Why we spill when we spill

January 06, 2016   By Kevin F. Langston in Santee Cooper Lakes

An aerial photo of the Santee Spillway taken during October's spilling operations

While many of us were opening presents on Christmas morning, Santee Cooper was opening floodgates at the Santee Spillway on Lake Marion. It was the third time in as many months that we'd be releasing water into the Santee River.

The Santee Cooper Lakes are part of a 15,000 square-mile watershed that stretches into North Carolina — the second largest watershed east of the Mississippi River. Our lakes are at the end of this line, so when we're under drought conditions it's unlikely we'll get very much water from the reservoirs above us. On the other hand, when it floods, that water is coming our way.

Prolonged rainfall throughout this watershed, combined with spilling operations from upstream reservoirs, brought the latest extreme inflows to lakes Marion and Moultrie. We began this current spill on Dec. 25 at a rate of 20,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) and brought it to a peak of 97,000 cfs by Jan. 4. We reduced spilling yesterday to... Continue Reading >>

Your guide to Santee Cooper Country

February 02, 2015   By Willard Strong in Santee Cooper Lakes
If you ever get the urge to pack up and "head to Santee" for day trip, weekend or week-long vacation, one basic question might come to mind: How to begin planning a trip to enjoy the many recreational opportunities on lakes Marion and Moultrie?

You're in luck because if you don't know already about it, there's a tremendous resource available that offers a lot about the five counties (Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Sumter) surrounding the lakes. It's the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission , one of 11 regional tourism commissions statewide. They're commonly known as "Santee Cooper Country."

Every year they publish the "Santee Cooper Country Visitors' Guide," and the 54-page 2015 version was recently released in booklet form (free) or online at . It's packed with information including 45 destinations or businesses on or near the Santee Cooper Lakes.

Topics include fishing, golfing, hunting,... Continue Reading >>