Underwater jetty in Savannah River raises safety concerns

Boats are hitting the water this time of year, but a hazard lurks below the surface.
Boats are hitting the water this time of year, but a hazard lurks below the surface.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Boats are hitting the water this time of year, but a hazard lurks below the surface.

An underwater seawall lies on the riverbottom under the Fifth Street Bridge.

Fred Peterson didn’t know about it until he ran into it.

“We struck a submerged object in the river,” Peterson said. “It ended up damaging my boat. It put about a 12 inch slice in the pontoon and the boat started to take on water.”

He says between the gash and dents in the pontoon, his boat’s value diminished by about $15,000.

But he says he’s had issues figuring out who to talk to about marking the hidden jetty more clearly.

“So this situation is become more like ping pong, and it’s just getting knocked back and forth from one agency to the other,” he said.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers. They said they’re not responsible for the area– that’s the Coast Guard’s job.

We called the Coast Guard, and they weren’t sure if the area is under their purview. However, it’s likely not, since they only oversee what they call “federally navigable waterways.”

A rep says smaller channels that still have boats on them are often managed privately.

Peterson also reached out to the mayors of both North Augusta and Augusta. He saysformer Mayor Lark Jones responded to get some buoys put on part of the wall. But Peterson says the entire wall isn’t marked adequately or made known to boaters.

Another boater says those familiar with the river know of the jetty.

“You could interview a thousand people and they could all say they know it’s there. I’m not concerned abut the people that know it’s there. I’m concerned about the people that don’t,” Peterson said.

While no one was hurt in Peterson’s collision, he says we shouldn’t have to wait till someone is hurt to take action and put up more buoys.

We will continue to look into who is responsible for safety on that stretch of the river.

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