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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What is the purpose of the Water Control Manual (WCM)?

Q.2 What are the general congressional authorizations for Water Control Operations?

Q.3 What are the authorized purposes of the projects?

Q.4 What do the Water Control Manuals consist of?

Q.5 Which laws govern the updates of the Water Control Manuals?

Q.6 What type of public involvement is involved in the Water Control Manual update?

Q.7 We understand that the State of Georgia has requested additional water storage to meet current and future growth. Have you addressed this request?

Q.8 How many alternatives were considered?

Q.9 Does the Proposed Action Alternative address salinity in Apalachicola Bay?

Q.10 Do you plan to raise West Point Lake or Lake Lanier?

Q.11 Did the Corps take into account Georgia EPD’s proposal to remove its minimum flow requirement at Peachtree Creek?

Q.12 Are the recommendations of the ACF Stakeholders Group included?

Q.13 Why didn’t you coordinate with NOAA?  

Q.14 Why didn't the Corps comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act? 

Q.15 Why didn't the Corps delay until after the Supreme Court ruled on the Florida v. Georgia case? 

Q.16 How was the baseline determined for hydropower impacts?  

Q.17 Why was a new cost allocation study not performed at Buford Dam since storage is being dedicated to Water Supply?  

Q.18 How does the Corps treat return flows and other “made water inflows” in the Environmental Impact Statement?  

Q.19 Did the Corps utilize the 1956 Act for Water Supply?  

Q.20 The USACE calculation that the City of Gainesville withdraws a total of 18 mgd (gross) from Lake Lanier incorrectly limits the City of Gainesville’s withdrawals under its 1953 relocation contract.  

Q.21 Did USACE adopt any of the NMFS Essential Fish Habitat conservation recommendations?  

Q.22 Did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide comments on the Final EIS?  


 

Q.1 What is the purpose of the Water Control Manual (WCM)?

A.1 The operations at each federal reservoir managed by USACE are described in a Water Control Manual (WCM), which includes Water Control Manuals for the operation of the ACF system and of the individual USACE projects within that system. The individual manuals typically outline the regulation schedules for each project, including operating criteria, guidelines and guide curves for varying conditions as well as specifications for storage and releases from the reservoirs. The individual Water Control Manuals also outline the coordination protocol and data collection, management and dissemination associated with routine and specific water management activities such as flood control operations or drought contingency operations.

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Q.2 What are the general congressional authorizations for Water Control Operations?

A.2. The ACF system was authorized pursuant to specific Rivers and Harbors Acts. Along with this specific authorization, the authority for Water Control Operations is provided by general congressional authorizations that apply to all federal reservoir projects. The following are examples of congressional authorizations that apply generally to the operation of federal reservoir projects:

  • Flood Control Act of 1944 (P.L. 78-534)    
  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958 (P.L. 85-624)    
  • Water Supply Act of 1958 (P.L. 85-500)    
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (P.L. 92-500)    
  • Endangered Species Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-205)    
  • Water Resource Development Acts        

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Q.3 What are the authorized purposes of the projects?

A.3. The following are authorized project purposes of the federal ACF system and commonly used methods to achieve them.

Project Purposes:

Flood Risk Management (Flood Control)

  • Winter drawdown at specific reservoirs
  • Store water in reservoirs during flood events
  • Monitor downstream points for river levels
  • Provide notification to Emergency Management Offices
  • Evacuate water as quickly as practicable when downstream conditions allow  

Navigation

  • Make releases to maintain an authorized stage for commercial navigation, navigation periods, and special releases for commercial navigation during other periods.

Hydropower

  • Operate hydroelectric generating units at Buford Dam, West Point Dam, Walter F. George Lock and Dam, and Jim Woodruff Lock & Dam
  • Determine volume of water available for generation on a weekly basis. Southeastern
  • Power Administration (SEPA) makes actual schedule within range specified by the water control manuals

Recreation

  • Allowing recreation at reservoirs according to the Water Control Plan while maintaining other authorized project purposes.  

Environmental and Water Quality

  • Support for fish spawning and other fish and wildlife conservation measures
  • Provide releases to meet downstream requirements
  • Provide gradual step-down of river levels where necessary
  • Provide minimum releases from reservoirs according to authorization language  

Water Supply (Rivers and Harbors Act of 1946)

  • Provide downstream water supply for the City of Atlanta.  

Water Supply Storage (Water Supply Act of 1958)

  • Consider exercising discretionary authority to include water supply storage for additional municipal and industrial water supply withdrawals from Lake Lanier(Water Supply Act of 1958).

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Q.4 What do the Water Control Manuals consist of?

A.4. Water control manuals are guidance documents that assist federal water managers in operating the individual and multiple interdependent USACE reservoirs in the ACF system. The manuals contain water control plans for each of those reservoirs and specify how the various reservoir projects will be operated as a balanced system. The manuals also contain drought operations plans and zones to assist federal water managers in knowing when to reduce or increase reservoir releases and conserve storage in USACE reservoirs. The water control manuals are being updated to capture:

  • Project/system operations refined over the years due to changes in basin hydrology and withdrawals/consumption that resulted from years of growth/development
  • Drought contingency requirements to account for new data and operational changes
  • Updated data reflecting current basin conditions
  • New/rehabilitated project structural features
  • Environmental requirements for water quality, endangered species and fish spawns
  • Procedures for capturing/using real-time data provided by additional gages and monitoring devices installed since last manual updates
  • Latest computer models and techniques to evaluate and establish guidelines for project operations
  • Improved and streamlined methods for data exchange between the Corps and other agencies

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Q.5 Which laws govern the updates of the Water Control Manuals?

A.5. Updated Water Control Manuals (WCMs) are compiled in accordance with statutory (Flood Control Act of 1944) and regulatory requirements (Engineering Regulation ER 1110-2-240, ER 1110-2-241 and ER 1110-2-8156), and in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and account for demographic, hydrologic, environmental, and technological changes that have occurred within the basins. The Water Resources Development Acts of 1988 and 1990 also provide for public involvement of all interested stakeholders during the development of new or revised water control plans to reflect the current public interests within the basin.

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Q.6 What type of public involvement is involved in the Water Control Manual update?

A.6. Public participation in the planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process promotes open communication between the public and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and, consequently, better analysis and decision making. The public has been involved since the initial scoping process and review of the final documents is the next step in that process.

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Q.7 We understand that the State of Georgia has requested additional water storage to meet current and future growth. Have you addressed this request?

A.7. The Proposed Action Alternative recommends reallocating storage that could yield a total of 222 million gallons per day (mgd) or 252.950 acre-feet for the water supply at Lake Sidney Lanier. The PAA also acknowledges that up to 20 mgd is provided from Lake Sidney Lanier under 1950 relocation contracts. In addition, the PAA earmarks releases from Buford Dam sufficient to accommodate up to 379 mgd downstream at Atlanta by the year 2050.

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Q.8 How many alternatives were considered?

A.8.  The Final EIS (FEIS) considered ten alternatives, including the No Action Alternative, that were modeled and considered during the process. The PAA is identified as providing the best balance for all authorized purposes and needs within the basin.

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Q.9 Does the PAA address salinity in Apalachicola Bay?

A.9. Operations of the ACF end at the confluence of the Apalachicola River and the Gulf Intra-Coastal Waterway. However, the cumulative effects of ACF operations are fully considered and documented in the FEIS, which indicates that none of the alternatives considered would have more than a minimal impact on salinity in Apalachicola Bay. The FWS conducted hydrodynamic bay salinity modeling with simulated flow data from the HEC-ResSim modeling conducted for the WCM update. This information was received and considered in the FEIS.

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Q.10 Do you plan to raise West Point Lake or Lake Sidney Lanier?

A.10. The final documents do not include a proposed plan to raise the winter pool at West Point or the summer pool at Lake Sidney Lanier.

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Q.11 Did the Corps take into account Georgia EPD’s proposal to remove its minimum flow requirement at Peachtree Creek?

A.11. The State of Georgia EPD has removed the water quality flow requirement at Peachtree Creek. This information was not received in time to include in the draft water control manuals and EIS, but will be considered as the Corps continues the water control manual update and FEIS process.

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Q.12 Are the recommendations of the ACF Stakeholders Group included?

A.12. The information provided by the ACF Stakeholders Group was not received in time to be included in the draft documents. Their recommendations were reviewed, analyzed and have been addressed in the FEIS.

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Q.13 Why didn’t you coordinate with NOAA?

A.13. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.14 Why didn't the Corps comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act?

A.14. The Corps complied to the maximum extent possible as required by law.

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Q.15 Why didn't the Corps delay until after the Supreme Court ruled on the Florida v. Georgia case?

A.15. The Corps was not a party to the litigation. The Corps informed the Supreme Court and the Special Master that it expected to release a Record of Decision for the EIS, Water Control Manuals, and Water Supply Storage Assessment by March 2017. The Corps has reiterated this expectation to the Court and the release of the Record of Decision at this time is consistent with the expectation.

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Q.16 How was the baseline determined for hydropower impacts?

A.16. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.17 Why was a new cost allocation study not performed at Buford Dam since storage is being dedicated to Water Supply?

A.17. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.18 How does the Corps treat return flows and other “made water inflows” in the Environmental Impact Statement?

A.18 The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.19 Did the Corps utilize the 1956 Act for Water Supply?

A.19. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.20 The USACE calculation that the City of Gainesville withdraws a total of 18 mgd (gross) from Lake Lanier incorrectly limits the City of Gainesville’s withdrawals under its 1953 relocation contract.

A.20. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.21 Did USACE adopt any of the NMFS Essential Fish Habitat conservation recommendations?

A.21. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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Q.22 Did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide comments on the Final EIS?

A.22. The USACE coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The coordination resulted in one conservation recommendation that was incorporated into the FEIS. NMFS ceded its ESA consultation on gulf sturgeon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The consultation with FWS resulted in a non-jeopardy determination and a biological opinion. USACE (Mobile) water management has and continues to work with NOAA and other members of an interagency team on the NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) Drought Early Warning System for the ACF Basin. NOAA did not raise any issues with the models the USACE used during the EIS process.

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