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Saluda Dam Relicensing Settled!

Posted: 07/28/2009
By: Kevin Colburn

On Friday, July 24, 2009, American Whitewater signed a settlement agreement with South Carolina Electric & Gas Company and a suite of other organizations and agencies that resolves issues regarding the management of Lake Murray Dam for the next 50 years.  Lake Murray Dam regulates flows in the popular Saluda River, as it flows through Columbia, South Carolina.  American Whitewater and other groups were involved in studies and negotiations for the past five years, and have been actively involved in improving the management of the Saluda River for at least the past fifteen years. 


American Whitewater was represented throughout this process by a dedicated volunteer, Charlene Coleman.  Charlene contributed countless thousands of hours to improving her home river through this dam relicensing process with support from AW staff.  In 2006 Charlene was recognized by American Whitewater as our River Steward of the Year for her work on the Saluda and Chattooga rivers.  The Saluda Settlement is a testament to her hard work and creativity. 


The settlement agreement includes: 


  • 51 recreational releases (45,000 acrefeet) for events at a variety of flows (including releases for a Saluda Whitewater Festival, Canoeing for Kids, and a rescue rodeo)
  • 10 swiftwater rescue releases
  • April and May striped bass releases every day that are good for boating (1000-1300cfs)
  • New minimum flow of 700cfs, up from 500
  • New take out at Candy Lane, enhancements at other access areas
  • Sirens, strobes, and other warning systems
  • Call down system for announcing flows to the public via email and phone calls. 
  • Turbine venting and updates to improve water quality

With the agreement behind us, the work is far from over.  Over the next one to two years the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will review the agreement and request public input.  American Whitewater will support the agreement throughout this process.  At the end of FERC's review period they will issue a new license for the dam.  Some of the benefits in the agreement will begin shortly, but many will have to wait for final FERC approval.  After the license is issued, AW and other stakeholders will play an active role in scheduling releases and collaboratively managing the river.


We would like to express our deepest gratitude for the years of hard work that Charlene put into this project.  The results are truly awesome.   

Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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