Corps simulates proposed drop in Savannah River level after lock and dam removal

Corps simulates proposed drop in Savannah River level after lock and dam removal
New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in Augusta (Source: WFXG)

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - In 2018, the Army Corps of Engineers presented their recommendation for the future of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in Augusta.

Russell Wicke, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, says: “The lock and damn went into caretaker status and what that means is funding was curtailed. When funding curtails, the structure begins to dilapidate and fall apart.”

The Army Corps of Engineers recommended replacing it with a rock weir.

“It’s essentially a fixed solid wall of rocks that will help hold the water levels high in Augusta," explained Wicke. "It will also allow endangered species such as the shortnose sturgeon to regain access to their historic spawning grounds.”

The plan is expected to lower water levels on the Savannah River by one to two feet from the average summer level in downtown Augusta and North Augusta. Starting February 9, a simulation gave a firsthand look at the pool’s future.

“The purpose behind the simulation is to make some adjustments at the lock and dam gates so that we can bring the gates down about to the level where the top of the weir would be when its constructed,” said Wicke.

The simulation looked dramatic with the higher than normal water flow after a winter of heavy rain. But the Corps expects the drop won’t be an issue for most people.

They’ll make adjustments to the pool and get it to the correct level by February 14, where it will stay for a week. Then the public will have 30 days to comment. A final draft will be sent to the Corps’ regional office in Atlanta with a final decision expected by August.

The Corps has an interactive shoreline mapping tool to show how the water level drop may look at different points along the river.

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