New details on accidental drainage of Lake Edwin Johnson

Lake Edwin Johnson in Spartanburg County was accidentally drained when a valve was left completely open
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (FOX Carolina) - New details on what led to the accidental drainage of a Spartanburg County lake that killed thousands of fish.

The Department of Natural Resources says Lake Edwin Johnson near Croft State Park was being kept 10 to 12 feet below-full while the dam was being repaired. The dam failed its most recent inspection in 2019.

Officials say late last week, the dam’s valve was opened completely resulting in the entire lake being drained.

The DNR is still looking into how the accident happened. The department does not believe it was human error, but have not ruled out an act of vandalism.

“We’re all real disappointed and upset that this happened,” said Ross Self, the Chief of Freshwater Fisheries for the DNR. “We’ve been working really hard to try and maintain the lake at a level that would continue to allow public use while these repairs were being carried out. We will work to bring it back to the level folks were anticipating.”

Self says it will take some time to refill and re-populate the lake. No boating or fishing activity will be allowed until the summer of 2024.

For those spending time at the lake today, like Lillian Wilson, the lack of water was shocking.

Wilson visits weekly to enjoy nature. She says someone needs to be held responsible for this mistake.

“When you are doing something like this [repair project], you need to have all your I’s dotted and all your T’s crossed,” Wilson said. “Always look at what could happen, what could go wrong because all of those fish died. It’s a big impact on nature. It’s sad.”

Wilson has been visiting the lake for the past 30 years. She says it’s always been a nice quiet spot for fishing and taking in the ambiance.

Officials say they may never come to a definitive answer as to what caused the open valve.