Lake Murray refilling rapidly

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 6, 2014 

Carl Mitchell, who works for the family business Breakwater Docks, builds a dock last month in a cove at the end of Murray Lindler Road in Chapin. Lake Murray hit its low-water mark last month a drawdown to keep it healthy, but refilling began late last month. Water levels at the lake have risen about four feet over the past two weeks.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

Boating is back sooner than expected as Lake Murray refills rapidly.

Water levels rose 4 feet during the past two weeks, making nearly all coves usable for vessels while submerging shoals and other hazards.

“It’s a pleasant surprise,” said Andy Hyman of Chapin, president of the Lake Murray Association.

Steady rain sped recovery of more than half of the 7-foot drawdown that occurred in the fall to keep the 47,500-acre manmade lake healthy.

The refill began in late December, a few weeks earlier than waterfront neighborhood leaders expected.

Cold may discourage some boaters, but there’s enough water now for most who want to go out, Hyman said.

The drawdown is the first of periodic drops that environmental experts recommend.

It is designed to reduce underwater weeds through exposure to sunlight and scour contamination mainly from erosion so water quality and fishing in the 84-year-old lake remain in good shape.

The drop lasted about three weeks — less than half of what was forecast — but long enough to do the job wanted.

It accomplished “what we intended and hoped,” said Eric Boomhower, a spokesman for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.

Letting the refill start early also provided protection from flooding along rain-swollen rivers that flow into the lake, he said.

The Cayce-based utility manages a lake originally built for hydropower but now a major source of Midlands recreation and drinking water as well.

Rising water doesn’t inconvenience dock installation and repair, builders say

”We play the hand we get,” said Bill Mitchell, owner of Breakwater Docks in Chapin. “It’s not really causing much of a problem for us.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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