Some homeowners concerned about Lock and Dam project

AUGUSTA (WJBF) — Some homeowners who live on the Savannah River are concerned about the future of the lock and dam in south Augusta.

The federal government has two separate plans for the structure. One calls for a major repair of the system, the other calls for its demolition.

The Army Corp of Engineers has two projects in mind for the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

One has the support of the Riverkeeper, but it also has homeowners along the river concerned about the river level.

Keith Shafer bought a home on the Savannah River at Goodale Landing about 12 years ago.

“We have a boat. We use the river all the time. We take our friends on the river. We watch people use the river. We love the river,” he said.

Shafer and other homeowners at Goodale Landing say they’re concerned about the federal government’s plans for the lock and dam.

The structure is in a state of disrepair and the Corp says it’s a safety hazard to the public.

That’s why Congress has provided funding to fix the problem.

But the question now is should the lock and dam be fixed or should it just be taken down?

Nobody uses the lock system anymore and the dam is there to maintain the pool level in downtown Augusta.

“The river level can vary quite a bit in depth and it has overflowed its banks a number of times and when it does, you become aware of the need for flood control,” Shafer said.

The Corp now has two options: repair the wall and modify the structure in a way to allow safe passage for fish or remove the lock and dam and build a natural-looking rock dam in its place.

“We don’t believe there will be any flood control with that (the rock dam) and we don’t trust the Corp’s statements about that because they drew the river down in 2000 and caused millions of dollars in damage, so their credibility on this issue is somewhat in question. We know they’re good guys, but we question some of this,” Shafer said.

However, the Riverkeeper is in favor of building the rock weir, which would also allow fish to swim upstream.

She says the project will not affect the pool level like some people are concerned about.

“The pool is not going anywhere and in fact, the federal government has to take it into consideration, so it is a huge misstatement that the pool is going to be lost because of this process when in fact it’s the opposite. This language (the Water Act) protected the pool for the very first time,” she said.

There is no timeline for the lock and dam project because the Corp is still trying to figure out which option will work best.

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