'We are not going to compromise': CSRA leaders want the lock and dam pool left alone

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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

It's no secret that most of you did not agree with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to get rid of the lock and dam. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A day after a public meeting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ lock and dam plan, some residents feel like it was a waste of time.

Meanwhile, the Corps says they want to compromise. But, area leaders are not on board.

In fact, Augusta Commissioner John Clarke says there's a 99.9 percent chance that Augusta-Richmond County joins the South Carolina lawsuit against the Corps. He’s unsure of when it will be made official.

The Corps’ options to preserve the pool aren't music to local leadership ears.

There's two sides to the lock and dam debate, but both sides of the river are on the same page.

“We are not going to compromise,” Augusta-Richmond County Commissioner John Clarke said. “Period. Forget it.”

The Corps is offering to change their plan if leaders meet them halfway.

“Non-federal funds can be provided to build a higher rock weir,” said Colonel Daniel Hibner, the commander of the Savannah District of the Corps of Engineers.

That option is what they’re calling Alternative 2-6a. The Corps says it puts the water level within inches of what it is now, but it requires state and local governments to pitch in funding.

"Doesn't seem quite fair,” South Carolina Rep. Bill Taylor said. “They come in with a plan, and yet we have to pay over that amount of money to find a satisfactory outcome."

Some leaders like Commissioner Clarke are willing to spend the money, just not for the Corps’ rock weir.

“It's not about tax dollars,” Clarke said. “We are willing to spend the money to rebuild our dam."

Another option brought up during the meeting is removing a 2-mile training wall under the river. The Corps says images from the drawdown test in February came from areas behind it. They say the wall lowers the water level on the North Augusta side.

“The pool is going to drop two feet whether that training wall is staying there or it’s not there,” Clarke said.

The answer to the Corps’ options seems to be clear.

“We need them to compromise with us and give us back our dam, and leave our pool alone,” Clarke said.

Local leaders say they may not listen to the people, but they are listening to the lawsuit. The litigation requires everyone to pump the brakes on the entire Lock and Dam resolution.

The lawsuit is key, too, because it essentially halts any options from going anywhere.

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