SC files complaint against Army Corps of Engineers over lock and dam plan

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Monday, Nov. 4, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

It's no secret that most of you did not agree with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to get rid of the lock and dam. (Source: WRDW)

SOUTH CAROLINA (WRDW/WAGT) -- South Carolina's attorney general has filed a complaint against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and multiple Corps officials in federal court over the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looked to move forward with a plan to put a rock weir -- a smaller dam -- in the place of the lock and dam.

State Representative Bill Hixon says the lawsuit is still being processed, but it will be made public tomorrow. Georgia Congressman Rick Allen believes the state has the law on our side.

"A judge is going to say okay this is the law, you have to obey the law and then we'll go back to the drawing board," said Allen.

Rep. Hixon told News 12 that this will be the state of South Carolina versus the Corps of Engineers, specifically naming the corps and officials Major General Holland, Colonel Hibner, and a few others.

"This is what they are going to leave South Carolina with? I don't think so," said Hixon.

State Rep. Hixon says he hopes the mess, created by a test of the Corps' plan back in February, is cleaned up in court.

"It looks like this is going to be the only way to get somebody's attention and make a decision on who's right and who's wrong," said Hixon.

But, finding the truth is what this whole fight is about.

The Corps thinks under the WIIN Act of 2016, Congress says they should remove the dam and build a fish passage. But local, state and federal officials on both sides of the river say that same law requires any plan the Corps chooses to maintain the pool.

"When you got four United States senators telling them they don't like what the corps doing, and they don't listen to them? That's an arrogant bunch of people," said Hixon.

Yet property values, riverside developments, water supplies, and entire industries are sitting on a sinking ship.

“We are trying to make sure the industries keep the water they want, also we can enjoy the recreation on the river like we have ever since its been there," said Hixon.

Hixon says this lawsuit buys everyone involved some time. More importantly, it forces both sides to present the facts.

"We want the truth, and if it takes a court to decide what the truth is? That's what South Carolina is willing to do. We are willing to defend our side of the river," said Hixon.

Georgia leaders say there's a lawsuit in the works from their side as well that may come as soon as tomorrow.

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.

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