Savannah Riverkeeper weighs in on plan for the Lock & Dam

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- From Augusta to Washington, leaders are lining up to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from getting rid of the Lock and Dam on the Savannah River.

They worry that removing the dam will lower the pool leaving a muddy mess on both sides of the river.

News 12 spoke with the Savannah Riverkeeper and she's not one of those people lining up to fight the plan. Tonya Bonitatibus says the decision is out of her hands and it's time for people to focus their attention on what they can control.

"The dam is leaving. There will be a rock dam in place," said Bonitatibus.

Bonitatibus says saving the dam is not an option at this point

"The corps has been very adamant since day one that that is not reality. That is not going to happen," said Bonitatibus.

But people are worried about this happening to the river. These photos were taken in February when the corps tested lower water levels. Bonitatibus says these photos don't paint the full picture.

"What you saw during the drawdown is water that's been covered for a long time, of course, it looks gross. It's the bottom of the river," said Bonitatibus.

She says the black muck could go away in just a few days, and underneath is white sand.

"Give it a little bit. It's some of the richest, most nutrient-filled soil we could possibly have," said Bonitatibus.

But with the water level dropping, what about the events Augusta has on the river? The ironman and regatta both rely on the Savannah River, and Bonitatibus says they're all safe.

“There was no evidence that any of these events would be negatively affected in the future," said Bonitatibus.

She says the corp's plan to replace the dam with piles of rock stretching across the river does have some holes, but it isn't set in stone yet. She's asking the community to find a compromise that benefits everyone.

"If the legislature was to decide that this was a priority, versus spending all of our time in court that we will lose, then we could fix this problem tomorrow,” said Bonitatibus.

The corps says they want to work with the city and you about all of this. Those talks are set to begin in two weeks. They will have a public meeting at the Boathouse Community Center on Riverfront Drive.

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