AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -
Oil from a broken machine at the historic King Mill in Augusta has leaked into the Savannah River, causing a sheen that could be seen all along downtown Augusta on Friday.
Augusta Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus tells FOX 54 the leak was first noticed Friday morning. Once the Canal Authority was notified of the leak, they worked with the City of Augusta to shut off the drinking water flow to South Augusta, which is fed by the Savannah River below downtown. South Augusta will operate off its reservoir until Saturday, so residents' water service should not be affected.
“When we can actually find a source and say hey fix it now and let’s move forward, I think that’s a win,” says Tonya Bonitatibus.
It was a race against time that took hours for crews to locate where this oily substance in the Savannah River appeared ?
“We have now identified the source which is about 2 miles away from where it was first found. Which is the rake or component of the water intake structure of one of the old mill,” says Tonya Bonitatibus.
Bonitatibus who’s with the Savannah Riverkeeper says she believes the substance in the river was 15 to 20 gallons of hydraulic fluid that came from this machine. A task that took the combined effort of several departments to locate the source of the leakage and how to fix it.
“All we have done is stabilized the discharge so basically there’s a boom which is an oil catching structure,” she says.
While this equipment will make sure large amounts of fluid doesn’t seep through, the job isn’t complete. Tonya says the machine has to be permanently fixed to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “Nobody benefits when there’s some type of discharge like this in the marina.”
FOX 54 reached out to the canal authority to get a comment on what caused the machine to break and what’s the plan to fix it. Our call’s have not been returned.
It’s important to note that the city turned the drinking water for intake for south Augusta off once the riverkeeper noticed this. FOX 54 were not notified of any boil water advisories or drinking water issues.
Crews will be back Monday to work on a more permanent solution.