GREAT FALLS, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Beginning Saturday, March 18, kayakers and water lovers can spend time in the newly finished Great Falls Reservoir.
With Duke Energy’s Enhancement Project complete, water flows through two river channels for the first time since 1907.
After renewing its license in November 2015, Duke Energy Project managers say the $80 million construction took over five years to finish.
“When the project was originally built, the diversion dams were put there to channel the water to the hydro station to produce electricity,” said Senior Project Manager Tammy Styer. “So those diversion dams kept water out of the channels.”
The project created flow release structures that provide water to these channels now. Officials say this will improve aquatic habitat and water quality and bring tourism to Chester and Lancaster counties.
“What we see coming is economic development for Chester County, along with the other economic development we already have,” said Chester County councilman Mike Vaughn. “This is going to make Chester County a place that people will want to live, particularly in the Great Falls area.”
There are now two release points for flow in the seven square mile area, the long bypass river, used for improving aquatic habitat downstream, and recreational flow. The short bypass river will provide safe access to the river for boaters.
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The project enables beginner and advanced boaters to ride class II to class IV rapid flows.
“We wrestled with this for years conceptually and through the design phase and then through the construction phase,” said senior project manager Tim Huffman. “I mean, it’s very challenging construction-wise. But through all of that, it’s really all still conceptual. It’s dry. It’s interesting. We’re trying to get it all right. But until the water hits you, you don’t know what it is. And it’s truly amazing.”