It could be a while before the beach area at Richard B. Russell State Park is re-opened to the public.
Lake Russell is still maintaining flood stage at roughly 480ft msl, normal height for the lake is 475ft msl.
Mark Millard with Russell State Park says that a majority of the beach area is currently submerged.
“For example it’s an eighty-eight ADA facility, which means there’s a ramp that goes out into the lake that ramp is totally submerged now there’s no access to it so it’s become dangerous where it is. The depth markers or totally underwater we have concrete walls that basically separate the grassy area with the beach, so we have drop offs out there now, the life rings are now four/five foot deep in the water so there unacceptable basically,” says Millard.
He says that the park is at the mercy of the US Army Corps of Engineers, as the decision to release water from the lake comes from them.
According to Millard, that decision is roughly two weeks away from being made.
He says concerns about downstream flooding are the reason the corps is holding off on releasing any more water from Russell.
“There concerns are flooding in Augusta, so all lakes are basically holding maximum and we’re at flood stage that’s the problem, when the corps starts to release will we be able to reopen. Even at that point we will still have a lot of cleaning to do, we might not have any sand left we have no idea what’s down there right now,” says Millard.
The high water levels at Lake Russell have had other impacts on facilities at the park, including the closing of one of the four boat ramps at the park.
The closed ramp is the one located near the rowing area, down near Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course.
Millard says that the other three ramps located inside of the park are still safe enough to remain open.