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Rising water levels concern Lake Wateree residents

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As heavy rains continue to push through the Carolinas, Lake Wateree residents say they are concerned about potential flooding.

CAMDEN, S.C. — Homeowners living along Lake Wateree say they are concerned by the recent rise in lake levels. 

The National Weather Service in Columbia issued a flood warning for Wateree and Congaree rivers on Tuesday. That's due to heavy rainfall over the past week.

"The lake is really is a beautiful place to be," says Jo McLeod. "However, when the lake levels come up, it's very damaging to people's property."

McLeod has been living on the lake with her husband since the 1990's, but she says she's seen more flooding since September, than she's seen living along the lake.

"This is probably the sixth time since the Fall, that the lake levels have come up so fast and so high, that sometimes people don't have time to get their boats out of the water or tied down properly."

She says she's fortunate that her home sits high enough that she doesn't see flooding inside her home.

Duke Energy explained that because of the heavy rains in the forecast for the Carolinas, "the Duke Energy Hydro operations team began moving water on Wednesday, June 5, through the 11 reservoirs along the Catawba-Wateree river basin, from North Carolina to South Carolina. Wateree is the last lake in the basin."

Before the weekend, Duke Energy dropped the lake levels four and a half feet below its normal level. They expect the lake to exceed 103.5 ft.

Sarah Daniels, vice president of the Wateree Hills Homeowners Association, explained that she doesn't know what else Duke Energy can do.

"I think they flow as much water as they can when they are expecting it and they get as much out of the lake as they can," says Daniels. "They flood the river, which is bad on the people living on the river, because my mother-in-law lives there. That's what they get for living on the river and what we get for living on the lake. When you have this much water coming there's nothing they can do."

Duke Energy encourages homeowners to continue to take precautions as more rain is expected in the Midlands.

Lake levels can be seen here: https://lakes.duke-energy.com/#/lakes

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To me the solution is a simple one....there is a dam at the south end of Lake Wateree. Simply open it a little more and let the water drain out!

However, I see that the water is overtopping that dam.  This means that the dam itself is inadequate! I was thinking there might be an issue with the flow of the Wateree River below the dam that might make simply opening the dam not advisable, but the truth is, they need a sizeable emergency spillway around this dam, and they don't have one (e.g. the canal off of the Broad River in Columbia).

With the Wateree River flow, it's not a capacity issue, as the river doesn't overflow that easily.  Like everything that we have seen since 2015, the dams in South Carolina are piss poor in many places, and all of this rainfall is exposing that issue.

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