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.