Corps says they will continue with plans for Lock & Dam unless there is a court order

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

Lock & Dam (Source WRDW)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The US Army Corps of Engineers is ready to move forward with plans to get rid of the Lock & Dam, while local cities are ready to sue them to keep it.

Right now, the plan is to replace the dam with a series of rock walls, stretching across the river. The community says the effects would be bad news on both sides of the river.

Unless they get a court order injunction, the corps told News 12 they have to keep going to meet the deadline.

There seems to be a fine line between development and demolition. Ed Archer is judging from the line of his fishing pole.

"I think it is going to be a mud pool," said Archer as he overlooked the Lock & Dam. He is not alone in his sentiments.

The Corps is saying they are making adjustments for Savannah Harbor's soon to be billion-dollar economy. Meanwhile, Augusta is claiming the Corps is killing their economy.

District 7 Commissioner Sean Frantom told News 12, people across the two-state are ready to stand against the Corps. Encouraging commissioners to, "fight for our water, put everything else to the side because it is the biggest issue we've ever faced as a community," he said.

The city plans to have 11 million in T-SPLOST dollars set aside for the Lock & Dam. They have not confirmed how they're spending it, but options include new construction and even lawsuits against the corps.

"We're not going to stop unless we're ordered to stop-in a legal manner," said Russell Wicke, a representative with the Corps of Engineers told News 12.

The Corps says over the next year, they’ll be designing the full blueprint for the new rock walls replacing the dam. The deadline to start the construction is January 2021. The only way to tap the breaks on any of it is a court injunction.

"But if there is no court order we will continue on our timeline," said Wicke.

Frantom countered, "It was very clear this wasn’t proven it was going to work, and for them again to go ahead and say that 'we're going to do it,' is disingenuous this community."

The Corps changed parts of its original plan now to allows the city to pay for modifications that would build higher walls to keep the water level downtown higher too.

But Augusta officials are adamant that the burden to fix anything should be on the agency that broke it.

News 12 was told some leaders have talked to the port authority, the agency that is acting as the liaison for the Corps and the local counties.
But right now, legal teams have not solidified the next steps.

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