Many take advantage of low canal waters, including treasure hunters

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 15, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga.---For the first time on record, the Augusta Canal is being completely drained. The reason is for a construction project to make improvements.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, many of you were out taking advantage, even hunting for treasures that have been buried for years.

We're just about halfway through the draining project, and while the city is hard at work, many of you are using it as a chance to get up close and personal with the canal.

"This place looks old," says Peyton Maddox. "It's very old," replies his dad, Lester. Lester and Peyton are exploring the Augusta Canal. It's been drained for construction and they're taking advantage with an adventure.

"We just came out looking for bottles and little treasures, stuff like that. Looks like we found more mud than treasure," says Lester.

While most of what Lester and Peyton found was junk, they did find a very old Coke bottle from New York City. A bottle that if it could speak, would probably have quite a story to tell.

Since the canal was built in 1845, many treasures have found their way here. "There's a lot to be discovered, you know, general things that people decide they're gonna throw into the canal," says Lester.

In just about three weeks the Augusta Canal has gotten lower and lower to where it is now, where just a few creeks flow through it.

Many, like Joe and Casey Boyd spent the day out at the canal. Some walked, some biked, and others set up camp for a long day of fishing. But they all had one thing in common, enjoying a sunny Sunday.

"It's a beautiful day and it's a good time to come out and ride our four wheelers," says 12-year-old Casey Boyd.

Even though dozens were at the canal, Lester thinks there are still hundreds, maybe thousands of people who've never experienced the beauty sitting in their own backyard.

"I'm sure that there are a lot of people that live here in Augusta that have probably been here most of their life that have never seen the beauty of the actual canal with the waterfall and everything it has to offer," says Lester.

"I never knew it was here until this past summer, I knew the Evans part was there but i didn't realize all this was down here," says Christine Boyd.

So if your feeling adventurous or just looking for a relaxing get away, the canal has been here for over a hundred years, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

60 percent of Augusta gets its drinking water from the canal, but that pumping station was built in 1899 -- so the construction aims to update the equipment for the 21st Century.

For the time being, we're getting our water from the Savannah River.

The project is estimated to take until the second week in March. Then it should be back to business as usual -- but new and improved.

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