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Old 07-15-13, 01:41 PM   #2
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Default Planning Safe Trips Down the Hooch

With thanks to Sparsehackle for sharing safety info!


Safety Rule #1: Only float, wade, and fish the ‘Hooch in low water!

Today (Monday, July 15, 2013) I was preparing to float in my pontoon from Jones Bridge to Garrard’s Landing. Safely floating low water depended on a Buford Dam generation starting at 11 AM or later. When I checked my usual on-line links I found several oddities and discrepancies that could make some of these links unreliable for planning a safe float or wade trip. For example, generation at Buford Dam began this morning at 7:00 AM; not noon, as expected. If I had launched at Jones around 10 AM, as originally planned (or been wading at Jones Bridge based on incorrect assumptions) I would have likely been caught unexpectedly in rapidly rising water!

FYI – Here’s some updated on-line information that may help you in future planning:

Note: When using on-line sites for planning purposes, pay particular attention to the time used by the site, e.g. EST, EDT, CST, military time, civilian time, etc.

The most accurate and up-to-date information on the release schedule is by telephone at 770-945-1466. Another accurate and timely release schedule can be found at: Use the drop-down boxes to select Buford Dam and Date.

One often posted site ( has several problems: 1) “Today’s Schedule” may not be posted until 9:00-10:00 AM - sometimes well after generation has already begun! This is useless for planning purposes! 2) Times given in the table are labeled as Central Std Time (CST), so in winter, tabled values are “supposed to be” 1 hr earlier than local EST (e.g. 12 noon in table = 1:00 PM EST), and in summer, tabled times should be 2 hr earlier than EDT (e.g. 12 noon in table = 2:00 PM EST). However, the tabled values posted today were for Central DAYLIGHT time not CST as labeled. These discrepancies make accurate planning impossible, 3) times are given in military time, which can sometimes be confusing to us civilians, 4) the megawatt values do not correspond to those posted at:

The site for “Tomorrow’s Schedule: ( has the same issues noted above. In addition, this schedule is often not posted until after 8:00 PM the night before, so planning the next day’s float becomes somewhat uncertain.

1) All times are EST. Don’t forget to convert to EDT in summer, 2) posting of data values to these sites is not instantaneous. It is delayed by 15-30 min from real time.

The Atlanta Fly Fishing Club has an often referenced post (including NGTO’s sticky: listing the “time to crest” at various points on the river for water generated from Buford Dam. However, in my 30 years experience, you want to be OFF the river well before the “time to crest” values shown in this table. I try to get out of the river BEFORE the LEADING EDGE of water generated from Buford Dam reaches my take-out point. I’ve found that a good estimate for the travel time (in hours) for a slug of water generated at Buford dam between any two points on the river can be calculated using: (number of river miles) divided by (4 miles/hr as the water speed). River miles can be estimated from the CRNRA map located at:

Based on calculation as well as on-the-water experience, here are the times I use for the interval between the START of generation at Buford Dam and the time for the leading edge of the water to reach various points on the river. These may be a little on the conservative side, but they’re pretty safe estimates. I plan to be either out of the river, or within a few yards of my takeout point (if wading) based on the these estimates. I hope you may find this to be useful information.

Bowman’s Island – Zero!
Hwy 20 – 30 min
Settles Bridge – 30-60 min
McGinnis Ferry – 2.0 hr
Abbott’s Bridge – 3.0 hr
Pleasant Hill Rd/McClure Bridge – 3.5 – 4.0 hr
Medlock Bridge - 4 – 5 hr
Jones Bridge – 5–6 hr
Holcomb Bridge – 6-7 hr
Island Ford – 7-8 hr
Morgan Falls – 9-10 hr (on line flow gauge of 812.5 matches to 6 feet at Paces Ferry approx 2 hr later)
Cochran Shoals 10-11 hr
Hwy 41/Paces Mill/Whitewater – 11-12 hr.
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