CORPS: River simulation smaller in scale than drawdown in 2000

January 31, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- If you lived in Augusta in the early 2000s, you probably remember the Army Corps of Engineers lowering the levels of the Savannah River, to see what it would be like without the Lock and Dam. It caused a lot of property damage.

The Corps is getting ready to lower the river levels again, this time simulating their plan for a fixed crest rock weir to replace the Lock and Dam. They promise this lowering is much different than the one in 2000, and won't have nearly the same impact.

Thanks to months of unrelenting rain, the Savannah River is three to four times higher than average. But in a few days time, the Savannah River is about to get a lot lower, three to four feet lower.

The Army Corps of Engineers wants to show you what their plan for the Lock and Dam would look like, during average summer conditions.

"From today's elevation, it's probably gonna come down 3-4 feet," said Scott Hyatt, Operations Project Manager for the Army Corps of Engineers. "If you're thinking what the pool normally looks like in July, it's gonna be 1-2 feet from there,"

Like he mentioned, you'll notice the river lowered about 1-2 feet by the 5th Street Bridge.

If the simulation sounds familiar, it's because the Corps did one in 2000. It was, by some accounts. a disaster. It caused a lot of damage and had a lot of you talking. Mindy Readdy is one of those.

"It's gonna affect here a lot," said Readdy.

The Corps says this drawdown will be very different from the one in 2000.

"That was done as a request to simulate what it would be like if the Lock and Dam. That was a drawdown of 15 feet or more. We are not talking about anything on that scale," said Hyatt.

The water will drop over a 5 day period and less than 6 inches a day starting on February 9th, reaching their target level by February 14th. Around that time, the Corps is also releasing a draft report, explaining the science and reasoning behind their plan.

A month of public comment starts on around that time, too -- and they'll keep it low until February 21st.

The Corps says -- they're doing this to help you decide if you support their plan for removing the Lock and Dam or not. Mindy already knows the answer.

"If it's something that's broke that's supposed to do a certain job...then fix what's broken on it and allow it to the job it's meant to do," said Readdy.

The Corps will open a 30 day public comment period in mid-February, synchronized with when the river reaches the target level. They're also planning a public workshop, too. That's slated for early March.

The Corps expects to finish their study period by June, and a final decision on the Lock and Dam plan be made by August by the Commanding General of the Corps; South Atlantic Division.