Spilled water…not like spilled milk

Spilled water…not like spilled milk

Spilled water…not like spilled milk

Santee Cooper resumed spilling water from Lake Marion at the Santee Dam and into the Santee River. The water journeys to the Santee Delta area and ends up in the Atlantic Ocean.

Why does this happen? When the inflows significantly increase (due to rainfall) into Lake Marion from the Congaree and Wateree rivers (which join to form the Santee River southeast of Columbia) Santee Cooper engineers then sometimes need to decide to open a portion of the 62 floodgates (the Santee Spillway), part of the Santee Dam.

A 10-day spill ended on Nov. 26, and we resumed spilling on Dec. 5. When this was posted on Dec. 6, the flow of water through the Santee Spillway was 10,000 cubic feet of water per second. In more understandable terms, that about 4.5 million gallons of water every second. This spill is expected to continue for a few more days this week.

Spilling is a normal part of how we manage hydroelectric operations on lakes Marion and Moultrie, the Santee Cooper Lakes. Sometimes we don’t have to spill for a year or longer. Remember, it’s all about the inflows. We don’t prefer to spill, because we like to keep that water in the lakes to generate electricity at the Jefferies Hydroelectric Station on Lake Moultrie, which has a generating capability of 128 megawatts. Jefferies Hydro is where Santee Cooper first began generating electricity on Feb. 17, 1942, and this “old reliable” is still making dependable power today.

You can keep up with spilling, lake levels, inflows and other lake-related information by calling the Santee Cooper Lakes Information Line toll free at 1-800-92LAKES. It’s updated daily by noontime. Give it a listen.

Go here to learn more about our lakes.

Author Willard Strong

Willard Strong

Willard joined Corporate Communications in 1989 after a four-year stint as a features reporter at The Post and Courier. A 1981 graduate of USC’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Kingstree native has served as news director at three radio stations, was editor of the weekly newspaper in Moncks Corner and is chairman of the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center Board of Directors. A boating enthusiast, he enjoys Gamecock football, lake life on Lake Marion’s Wyboo Creek and keeping his five guitars in tune.