Army Corps of Engineers plans fish passage for Savannah Bluff Lo - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Army Corps of Engineers plans fish passage for Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam area

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It's a proposal that plans to let fish swim around the crumbling Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

"Now the Corps of Engineers is actually looking at putting a fish ladder all behind me, that big area would be a rock dam," said Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus, pointing to a wooded area next to the Lock and Dam.

Bonitatibus has been coming to this stretch of the Savannah River since she was a small child. The Lock and Dam ceased operations in the 1990s, but has been kept in place, unmaintained.

"Augusta and North Augusta decided at that point, putting together a consortium that said 'we want this dam to stay," said Bonitatibus.

Keeping the aging dam in place ensures river levels stay fairly consistent through Downtown Augusta and North Augusta. Now, due to deepening of the Savannah Harbor, the Corps must ensure migratory fish can swim upstream to freshwater spawning grounds.

"What they have to do is provide some type of a solution for the damage they've caused to these fisheries," Bonitatibus explained. "And this is part of the solution."

In an artist rendering of the plan, it shows the existing lock and dam kept in place, while an off channel rock ramp creates rapids for the fish to swim through. Bonitatibus says the dam can no longer be fixed, and the $7 Million dollar price tag for the fish passage is the next best thing.

"This dam is something the Corps of Engineers can no longer pay to fix," she said. "It does not meet its designation, therefore, they cannot fix it."

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