How a $300,000 study on Lock and Dam damage will help

By: Julie Calhoun Email
By: Julie Calhoun Email

New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam (Uploaded to WikiMedia Commons by Civilengtiger)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "Some of the gates behind me don't go up and down and shut like they should. The lock system is often breaking," said Savannah River Keeper Tonya Bonitatibus.

The Savannah River keeper says you can also see the many cracks that need to be fixed as well, and she's hoping these repairs will come soon after a $300,000 study to see what needs to be done.

"This is a very old aging dam and these infrastructures weren't put in with the idea that they wouldn't be maintained and up kept," said Bonitatibus.

Back in 2000, the Army Corps of Engineers ran a test to see how the river would look without the dam. The Savannah River draw down disaster caused almost a million dollars in damages.

With no barge traffic, the corps wanted to tear the dam down. Although the cities of Augusta and North Augusta fought to keep it.

Leaving the question-- who will foot the bill?

"So it falls in between the weird cracks. So, I think it's really important once this study is done we have a concerted effort that we say okay now we know what is needed let's pay for it now if we're really going to fix it," said Bonitatibus.

"It's a very important piece of architecture that needs to be maintained," said former commissioner Andy Cheek.

"It out to be apart of the special purpose local option sales tax. We ought to fund the repairs for it," said Cheek.

"Further funding going into more studies is a waste," said Cheek.

Supporters of the lock and dam say without the repairs the city of Augusta would have a large mud flat along the river walk so it's critical that something be done soon.

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