The Union Recorder

May 6, 2013

Weekend rain elevates lake levels

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Several parts of northwest Georgia remain under a flood watch and other areas were under weekend flood warnings as rivers and creeks began spilling over their banks. 

Lake Sinclair’s spillway gates had to be opened due to the lake’s rising elevation from the weekend rains.

“We opened three spillway gates at Sinclair [Sunday] around 8 or 9 a.m. and closed the last gate around the same time [Monday] morning,” said Greg Brown, plant manager for Georgia Power’s Central Georgia Hydro Group, which manages Sinclair Dam, Wallace Dam and Lloyd Shoals Dam. “We have 24 gates at Sinclair. When we have two units generating and three spillway gates open, that’s considered a high flow event; anything below that is just a lot of rain.”

As of 6 a.m. Monday, Lake Sinclair’s elevation reached 339.38 feet.

“Lake Sinclair’s elevation is 340.0 to be considered a full pool, but we open the gates before we get close to that and we see the lake rising,” Brown said. “When we get a lot of inflow into the lakes, we try to maintain the lake level by passing water through turbans in the plant. When the inflow is greater than what we can pass through the turbans, we open spillway gates in order to maintain the lake levels. Georgia Power lakes don’t have flood control capability or responsibility. We try to maintain lake levels and try to pass the same amount of what’s flowing in so the river acts as if the dams weren’t there.”

With additional rainfall of up to an inch Monday, water levels were expected to be kept high and flooding along several streams and rivers across north Georgia was expected to continue, according to the National Weather Service Monday afternoon. A flood watch remained in effect through Monday evening for areas in the northwest. Rain is expected to continue today with an additional 0.25 to 0.75 inches of rainfall across north Georgia.

The Baldwin County area can expect a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 11 a.m. today.

“We will continue to monitor the weather and inflow into the lakes. We monitor the rate of change of the lake, so if we see the lake rising over a short period of time, we have procedures in place that cover any scenario you can think of,” Brown said. “[Monday’s] routine operation was nothing unusual.”

Lake Sinclair is a 15,000-acre manmade lake in Milledgeville operated by Georgia Power. Sinclair Dam was completed in 1953 before the 19,000-acre Lake Oconee was created with the completion of Wallace Dam in 1979.

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