The Bear Creek Reservoir is full once again.
The 505-acre regional reservoir located in southwest Jackson County achieved full pool last week at 695 feet above sea level, according to data released by Jacobs Services, Inc., the company that manages the reservoir for the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.
A year ago, the lake level was 687.78, and most forecasts coming into spring of 2012 projected a moderate to severe drought. And while rainfall stayed well below average for the area, the level of the lake remained remarkably stable. Lake levels this fall — typically the low point of the year for the lake — never got to 10 feet below full.
The reservoir provides treated drinking water for Jackson, Barrow and Oconee counties. In addition, when sustained drought lowers stream flows in the North and Middle Oconee rivers to the point that Athens-Clarke cannot withdraw from those rivers, it also provides raw water for Athens-Clarke.
For the week ending Nov. 9, Jackson, Barrow and Oconee used a total average of 6.66 million gallons per day (mgd) from the reservoir. Athens-Clarke used zero water over from the reservoir over the past four weeks.
While the reservoir level has remained stable, the level of water in the Middle Oconee River, which supplies the reservoir, remains at historic low levels. The average flow for the week ending Nov. 9 was 118 cubic feet per second as measured at the U.S. Geological Survey station at Arcade, compared to a historic average for November of 380 cubic feet per second.