Savannah River level keeps dropping; people are not happy about it

Published: Feb. 12, 2019 at 1:35 AM EST
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Monday, February 12th, 2019 / News 12 at 11 O'clock

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the Savannah River levels a few feet. Once they reach the level they're looking for Wednesday they want to hear back from the community.

Not many people are happy with the results right now. People are saying the ripple effects of lowering the water levels are already showing. The word thrown around the most is “ugly.”

"This isn’t beautifying our riverfront at all,” Dean Durand said.

Dean Durand has lived on the Savannah River for 20 years, enjoying the scenery and riding his boat. But the water levels keep dropping.

"It's going down four more feet,” Dean said. “I mean the dock I might as well get rid of the dock and the boat we won't be able to use it."

All because of the Lock and Dam and an effort to save an endangered group of fish.

"We have a structure that's had its funding curtailed since the 80s and it's starting to fall apart, something needs to be done with it,” said Russell Wicke, a spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers.

That's why the corps of engineers want to replace it with a rock weir.

"It's really a shame that North Augusta and Augusta has to suffer from what Savannah gains from the Harbor project,” Dean said.

Dean says this new look will drive people away, not to Augusta and he says it's also putting our river events in jeopardy.

"Well look at it, there ain't enough room out there now for anything,” Dean said. “The Iron Man, if they want to swim in it right there then maybe they'll be able to, but the rowing regatta there ain't enough room for the rowing regatta they have every year."

Dean wants to get his speed boat back in the water here. The last speed boat race in Augusta was in 2007.

“We've been talking with the Sports Council and the old River Race Augusta Committee and trying to work it out to get them back here, but with the river level the way it is that'll never happen,” Dean said.

But the Corps of Engineers says legislation requires they maintain the water level for recreation.

"And that's why there's going to be a weir there to begin with so that the water will be deep enough to do things like that,” Wicke said.

The Sports Council tells News 12 this is something they are monitoring very carefully. They say the lower water level could limit them on bringing new events to Augusta and if that's the case they'll fight for a change.

There will be a 30-day comment period and the corps said they'll address every one of them, but it doesn't sound like they'll make much of a difference. The final say on this project is up to their headquarters up in Atlanta.