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Major Lakes near Columbia SC

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By : Brian Hunt    99 or more times read
Waterfront properties in Columbia South Carolina are plentiful. The Monticello Reservoir, Lake Murray, Lake Wateree, The Broad River, The Congaree River, The Saluda River and The Wateree River are all great landmarks for the midlands of South Carolina. Although they are primarily thought of as recreational areas for outdoor enthusiasts and high dollar real estate investors, their main function is to produce electricity.

In earlier times, before the popularity of the motor vehicle and interstate highways, the rivers were used for trade and travel for the Indians. In fact, Columbia was established and settled because of the convergence of the Saluda, Broad and Congaree Rivers. Columbia later became the capitol of the state because of its central location.

The lakes and rivers in Columbia are a major attribute to the real estate market here. Waterfront property is a multi-billion dollar industry that has compounded over the years. Real estate is bought then sold over and over again, which typically increases in value with each sale. But again, the underlying function of these bodies of water is for hydro electricity.

The Monticello Reservoir in conjunction with the Parr Reservoir has the most interesting functionality. Lake Monticello, as it is commonly referred to by locals, is a quiet lake located off of HWY 215 in Jenkinsville, SC about 35 minutes from Downtown Columbia. Local chatter throughout the years has told me that most of the property surrounding the lake was farmland and the farmers have kept the acreage intact and not succumbed to the high-dollar real estate opportunities. It wasn’t until the beginning of the millennium that the inherited estates began to be sold off due to the lack of profitability in farmland and the high demand of waterfront property for sale in South Carolina.

The 6700-acre Monticello Reservoir was completed in the late 1970s as a pumped storage facility run by SCE&G (South Carolina Electric and Gas). It was built to compliment the existing 4400-acre Parr Reservoir that has existed since the early 1900’s. These are the two main components of the nuclear pumped storage facility and later a 300-acre “Recreational Lake” was built as a public recreational area. Traditional hydroelectric stations must have either large volumes of water, or a constant that flow to create this process. That is unless you have a nuclear power facility to pump water back into the original source(above the turbines) as Monticello does. Because of this process the water levels can rise and fall in extreme measures. Sometimes as much as a 5-foot decrease in Monticello and a 10-foot increase in the Parr reservoir over a 12-hour period of generation. Boaters must take extreme caution and be alert of any hazards that may arise during this time. In comparison to Lake Wateree and Lake Murray, Lake Monticello has some heavy restrictions on fishing and boating and allows no water-skiing or jet skis. Additionally, SCE&G owns a strip around the entire lake so that they can maintain the natural beauty and prohibit excavation projects.

Lake Murray is a lake that is also managed by SCE&G. It is about 50,000 acres in size and the 200-foot dam was once deemed the “largest earthened dam” in the world. Lake Murray was constructed in the mid-1920’s and completed around 1930. Just recently the dam was improved with a “backup dam” in case of an earthquake or uncontrollable breach. Waterfront property on Lake Murray is in high demand and the use of the lake is much less restricted. You will find all types of waterfront estates including single family residences, multi-family condominiums and apartments, and even commercial properties. It is by far the most popular lake in the area and about 20 minutes to downtown Columbia. There are public access points around the entire lake and boating, skiing, sailing, SCUBA diving, and fishing are encouraged. There are also a few marina grills that are open to the public and in the summer you will find the boats lined along the entire dock. It was rumored that “Madonna” bought a house here years ago.

Lake Wateree is somewhat a different vibe. It is operated by Duke Power and was built in the 1920’s and is approximately 13000 acres in size. Lake Wateree is located about 15 minutes off of I-77, 25 minutes off of I-20 between Charlotte, NC and Columbia, SC. It is also a recreational lake but you will find much less traffic and virtually no social spots. Fishermen find Lake Wateree a desirable area because traditionally it has been a low traffic area with plenty of coves and undeveloped property. At times you may forget that it is a public lake and feel like you have it all to yourself. In comparison, it’s a mix of Lake Murray and Lake Monticello.
Brian hunt is a real estate broker based in Columbia SC and specializes in:
Waterfront Property Columbia SC
Columbia SC MLS Listings

Blythewood SC Real Estate

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