Managing a 160,000 acre Lake System

Question: What kind of work goes into managing a 160,000-acre lake system?

Answer: The Santee Cooper lake system, which is the largest lake system in South Carolina, is a nationally recognized system for trophy fishing and recreation. People do come from all over the country to vacation, and even from other parts of the world to fish. It’s been in existence since the early 40s, and it is really morphed into a large system that basically has so many more uses than when it first began. It was first created as a hydroelectric project, like I said, in the 40s, which is why the lakes were built.

Aside from generation, the project provided navigable waters from Columbia to Charleston. We have a lock system that, at its time, was the single largest single-lock lift system in the country. It’s been surpassed many times by that. But it does have a lock that allows you to go from the lake down into the river system down to the coast. So that was pretty neat, and that was something that was very valuable back then, but as time progressed, the use was not used for transporting cargo or barges downstream.

The lake is managed under federal energy regulatory commission, which mandates the lakes being managed under their rules. It’s a 30-year license, and it’s up for renewal right now. Aquatic plant management and environmental monitoring provided by Santee Cooper are huge factors in making sure that these mandates are fulfilled and taking care of the health of the lake.

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