UPDATE: Drain system troubles in Augusta

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Friday, January 4, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The rain has finally stopped but several areas are still under water.

The 5th street boat ramp is one of those areas. A large part of the parking lot is under water.

Some areas are just getting little puddles but some older parts of towns are experiencing flooded roads and yards.

The Engineering Department tells News 12 some of their drain systems are part of the problem. Some areas are only getting drops of rain while others are getting drenched.

“We do have a few areas where we call localized ponding or flooding," said Hameed Malik, the director of engineering.

Old Town, Greene Street, and Laney Walker are a few places experiencing this.

"Basically the older city areas we do have where it takes time for the system to carry the water because it's an older system," said Malik.

Malik says some of the drainage systems are hundreds of years old.

“The system designed at that time, so it has a capacity issue. It's still functional, but it takes time for water to get through the system," said Malik.

It is leaving some driveways filled with nothing but mud and water. Some business parking lots and main roads are under water.

But Malik says they're mapping out the problem areas.

“We are documenting the condition of the systems, which we call a condition assessment and that will help us with what we should focus on first," said Malik.

Their first focus is fixing the flooding issue on Skyview drive. But Malik says they also have a plan for downtown.

“It's going to take a lot of time, and a lot of money to get it fixed," said Malik.

Malik says they have to prioritize where they can spend money to completely replace or upgrade systems.

The rain is not creating any problems right now but he says with heavier rain comes heavier flooding.

The system downtown along Tel-Fair and Broad Street connects to an outfall. This is just one of many systems Malik says they are looking at upgrading or replacing.

They have a crew on standby 24/7 for emergencies. To report emergencies, you can dial 311. If it is after 7 p.m., you can 911 for assistance.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A rainy end to 2018 follows us into the New Year with more rain expected today and tomorrow.

Flooding is a major concern for much of the river region and the 5th Street boat ramp still covered in water. These high water levels are affecting the plans for the lock and dam.

The corps says they are continuing to release water through and the water has even come into a near parking lot.

Because of those releases, unfortunately, they say this is going to continue. Water is taking over boat ramps and drowning signs along the Savannah River, making it hard for these two to get on a boat.

"With all the ramps closed we can't get in, we can't even get on the southern part in Sylvania or anything like that," said Ashley Jarriel and Rudy Smith, who are boaters.

Unfortunately, the flooding won't leave any time soon.

"In the next couple of weeks we're going to see the same pattern," said Scott Hyatt, with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the Savannah River is at its peak with about 240,000 gallons of water flowing through it per second.

“We're right at the capacity at the river channel, so you're right up at the very very top, think of it as a swimming pool you're right up to the lip of that swimming pool," said Hyatt.

That's because the corps is releasing water from the Thurmond Dam into the river after the lake got 16 inches of rain in two months.

“That's caused us to have to release higher to pass that water on downstream to keep the lake from overfilling," said Hyatt.

The goal is for Thurmond Lake to have a 9 foot buffer for flooding. Right now it does but there's more rain coming.

“There's still a lot of flood storage in there, we're prepared to handle the rain that's coming in but as we continue to get two/three inches of rain at a time, it's going to continue to keep these flows pretty high," said Hyatt.

Which means the river will stay this high for weeks.

“We are tired of rain we are ready to go set lines to catch catfish because that's the best time to do it, when the river falls out,” said Jarriel and Smith/

The corps says when they are expecting to get two to three inches of rain in the river they will stop the releases temporarily to keep the river from overflowing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Roads and yards by the Savannah River have been flooded for weeks now and with even more rain in the forecast, more flooding is expected.

People living at the 5th Street Marina say it's not often they see flooding as bad as it's been. A lot of it is controlled up at the dam but there's only so much the Army Corps of Engineers can do.

As the saying goes, on the river of life there are ebbs and flows.

"You have to really love water to be here,” said Mindy Readdy. She tries to be on the river at least every other day, and often works on boats at the marina. "Just another day down here, that's it. We love it.”

The river Readdy loves is overflowing after months of rain with little relief.

"This is the first time I've seen it this high,” said Readdy. “It normally doesn't happen."

Bauerle Boat Ramp has been closed for a month and now the 5th Street Marina Boat Ramp is, too. Officials say to expect the closures to last until at least the New Year. High water levels are to blame for that and for breaking this man's boat dock.

"My dock broke due to all the added pressure of the water," said Shadrick Clay. He lives in a houseboat at the 5th Street Marina.

With more rain on the way, the Army Corps of Engineers is on high alert.

They say they're running at 150 percent of their monthly average at Thurmond Dam and are already dipping into flood storage. Rain coming from upstream isn't helping either.

"One of the primary missions of the Thurmond Dam is to reduce the risk of downstream flooding," said Billy Birdwell, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

"I was just glad that I could still go far enough down that I could turn around to leave the parking lot," said Clay.

For the last several weeks, the Corps has been releasing 28,000 cubic feet per second from the dam when normally they only release between 5,000 to 7,000 cfs. If the rain continues, they're prepared to cut that back some.

"We are monitoring reservoir levels, we are monitoring in-flows from the streams upstream," said Birdwell. "We are monitoring what we release downstream and what impact its having on downstream conditions,"

To get to that point, we would need to see so much rain that releasing water from the dam would contribute to further flooding and damage downstream, which is possible, according to Birdwell.

People living on the river are just waiting for the rain and flooding to dry up.

"We're no worried about when it's raining. It's not until a day or two later until we get the affects,” said Readdy.

The Army Corps of Engineers is watching run-off levels from Augusta and North Augusta and creek levels, too. If those levels are so high that releasing more water from the dam would cause more damage, that's when they would cut it off or scale back. They say there is a distinct possibility that could happen but they do say they have plenty of capacity left for rain.