Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not be maintaining pool levels outlined by the law in the Savannah River, officials in Washington DC confirm.
As a result, the Corps is going with a plan to put a rock weir -- a smaller dam -- in the place of the Lock and Dam.
The Corps met with legislators and government officials from Georgia-South Carolina. The Corps' priority was to come up with a place that would protect endangered sturgeon.
"Alternative 2-6d will lower the average height of the river in the Augusta area approximately 2 feet from current average conditions. The introduction of multiple weirs will hold the water level above natural levels while allowing endangered fish, including the shortnose sturgeon, to reach traditional spawning grounds inaccessible since the lock and dam opened in 1937," a statement from the Corps said.
"While the final report identifies Alternative 2-6d as the selected alternative, it also enables conditions necessary for modification to increase the weir height to allow for higher water. These modifications can be introduced either now or in the future following completion of construction."
The Corps lowered the water to show what the pool would look like earlier this year. Some areas saw a muddy pit.
Corps officials plan to hold a public engagement on Nov. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Boathouse Community Center, 101 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, Georgia, where the public can hear details about the decision.
Meanwhile, Georgia and South Carolina government officials are beginning to respond to the decision.
Rep. Rick Allen and Rep. Joe Wilson called the plan disastrous, saying lowering the pool would "negatively impact recreation, economic development and the industries up and down the river, not to mention an increased chance of flooding."
“Today’s announcement is not only an affront to the public who have raised concerns throughout this process, it also blatantly disregards the warnings put forth by the recent Independent External Peer Review Report and the jarring results of the February 2019 simulation. Despite the report validating the community’s concerns, the Corps has decided to ignore the will of the American people and the intent of Congress, and move forward in a display of tyranny. We will not stop fighting this gross overreach and misuse of power, and we have warned the Corps that we will continue to hold them accountable. Georgians and South Carolinians deserve better," a statement from both men said.
The state of South Carolina, meanwhile, may be filing a lawsuit on the issue later this week.
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