The Southeast’s Only Fish Lock Offers Underwater View For One Month Only

[Image from SCDNR]

In 1941 the Santee River was dammed, and Lakes Moultrie and Marion were created. The water from Santee River, one of the largest drainages on the East Coast, was diverted to the Cooper River. These dams blocked hundreds of miles of migration routes for anadromous fish (fish that spend most of their lives in the saltwater environment of oceans and bays, but return to the freshwater environment of rivers and streams to spawn) returning to the system.

Beginning in 1985, Rediversion allowed Santee River water to continue to be diverted to Lake Moultrie, but instead of discharging all of the water into Cooper River through Pinopolis Dam, the majority of the water was now re-diverted back to the Santee River via a new canal, the Rediversion Canal. A dam was constructed on the Rediversion Canal near St. Stephen, South Carolina to maintain discharge control. The next image shows how the lock works and where one can view the fish.

[Image from SCDNR]
  1. As the fish are migrating upstream, they are attracted to a downstream flow at the entrance gates of the lift.
  2. The migrating fish pass through another gate on a wall, known as a fish crowder. Once a lift cycle is started, this gate closes and the crowder moves forward, forcing the fish into the lock chamber.
  3. The lock then floods, just as a boat lock does, and a basket forces the fish up to the lake level.
  4. As the fish exit into the lake system, they pass by viewing windows where they can be identified and counted.

The fish lock at St. Stephen dam affords passage for fish migrating upstream to spawn, and permits visitors an underwater view through a glass window from March 15 through April 15. Due to security, visitors must make reservations in advance for tours. Check out the Video

To Schedule a Vist: Check out DNR, For More Information: DNR