Could Congress and the Savannah Riverkeeper have new ideas for the Lock and Dam?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Water levels in parts of the Savannah River are so low now, sandbars and a once-hidden wall are showing. A few neighborhoods are also a muddy mess, but the Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus says other parts of the river are fine.

"The channel is still 10 to 13 feet in most places, we've run the river successfully most of the navigable parts here and there's still plenty of water," said Bonitatibus.

Still the Army Corps of Engineers' current plan to build a rock dam
is not putting the water levels at a height Bonitatibus wants to see them, so she's drafting her own plan and she's urging the corps to consider it.

Bonitatibus said, "Clearly this isn't the alternative right now we're looking at can we adapt this alternative to something that works better, or do we need to choose something like keeping the gates."

Representative Rick Allen doesn't like the plan the corps has proposed either. He's even considering new legislation if the corps doesn't change their mind.

Allen said, "That dam has a purpose it would be reauthorized for the given purpose, control of the water, flood control all these things and for the passage of these fish."

With the fate of the lock and dam up in the air, both Bonitatibus and Allen are urging everyone who has concerns to let the Corps know.

"A public comment period will open people can provide comments, the more technical they can be the better," said Bonitatibus.

Allen said, "Everybody needs to show up and say you can't do this."

The Corps will have a public comment period for 30 days, then they hope to get started with a design. They must start construction of a new plan by January 2021.