Fish, wildlife return; waters flowing at Sumter's Second Mill Dam

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 4/12/19

Brim are back at the backside of the dam four years after the first of two extreme weather events tore it down.

Water levels and fishing spots are finally back to normal levels at the Second Mill Dam, which received an S.C. Department of Health …

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Fish, wildlife return; waters flowing at Sumter's Second Mill Dam

Posted

Brim are back at the backside of the dam four years after the first of two extreme weather events tore it down.

Water levels and fishing spots are finally back to normal levels at the Second Mill Dam, which received an S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control certificate of completion and operation after an inspection in March.

First came the 1,000-year flood in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin. The dam at Second Mill Pond at West Liberty Street sustained serious damage.

Then came Hurricane Matthew. The first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007 dumped disastrous amounts of rain almost exactly a year later.

"So, we had two significant natural disasters to deal with, and, like many communities in the state, we've worked hard to rebuild and regain a sense of normalcy as best as we can," said Joe Perry, spokesman for the Sumter County government.

Trees had to be removed and rocks be placed to direct the flow of water for when the spillway gates started to properly open again. The bottom of the spillway the runs under Liberty Street had to be reinforced. A custom automatic spillway gate had to be installed. Debris had to be cleaned, grading completed.

There was more rain, of course, and a snow storm.

Fishermen didn't vanish from the scene. Their scene just changed.

Instead of fishing in a full pond and off the bridge, Sumterites could be seen sitting on buckets in the mud of the pond floor. Larger fish and alligators receded back into the floodplain when the water drained, the spillway gates unable to allow the flow of water back and forth. Grass grew where people used to not be able to stand, attracting birds to the new ecosystem.

Now, larger fish and original wildlife are returning to the pond through water flowing from Green Swamp, the primary feed into Second Mill Pond.

Sumter County has spent $1,841,570 to repair the dam, Perry said. The electronic gates cost $362,000, a purchase approved by Sumter County Council. Perry said the new gates are safer and more efficient and are expected to be more responsive to increased water pressure in the hopes of preventing damage in the case of a next natural disaster.

Once debris was cleared from the gates, all four became fully operational, Perry said.

Sumter County is charged with maintaining the embankment on Second Mill, which already hosts cars parked for fishing. Liberty Street is a state road.

Perry said the road over Second Mill is not ready yet for public use. When it is ready, the county will announce it.