Savannah Riverkeeper looking to tear down wall beneath the surface of the river

Savannah Riverkeeper looking to tear down wall beneath the surface of the river
Savannah Riverkeeper looking to tear down wall beneath the surface of the river

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- NewsChannel 6 has been digging deeper into the wall that lies beneath the surface of the Savannah River. Some say it’s a safety hazard, but no one is claiming responsibility for it.

A forgotten wall beneath the river’s surface usually isn’t noticable, but you can see it from space.

It runs from just north of the train trestle through the other bridges.

According to Scott Hyatt of the Army Corps of Engineers, it actually stretches a mile and a half down the river.

But it’s around those bridges where boaters run into trouble with it.

“We’ve had people rip the transoms out of their boat,” said Tonya Bonitatibus of Savannah Riverkeeper. “We’ve had people get quite jostled around and hurt by hitting it, so it causes issues every single year.”

Last year, it ripped a gash in Fred Peterson’s pontoon boat, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

But he hasn’t been able to figure out who is responsible for that wall.

We have learned that the wall was built around the turn of the 19th century. It was used to shore up the water on the Georgia side of the river to make it deeper for boats. This was before dredging.

But when the lock and dam were built in the ’30s, it increased the water level, which rose over the wall.
Since then, no one seems to have thought much about it.

When this was a busy trade corridor, the Coast Guard used to regulate markings, but now they’ve washed their hands of it. Today, it’s in no man’s land.

“But it left us in a really precarious situation. We have this wall. It dosen’t serve its original purpose anymore. It really needs to be removed.” Bonitatibus said.

Bonitatibus says Savanah Riverkeeper is working to get permission from the government to remove it.

But she says that’s not going to be an easy process.

“The big piece though is getting to where the federal government says ‘okay, yes, okay you can go ahead and move forward’,” she said.

And another question is: who would pay for it?

“It would be a very significant undertaking. I don’t know how we could get there at this point,” said Scott Hyatt, who is an Operations Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Riverkeeper says she wants to get it torn down within the next year and a half, before the Corps of Engineers is set to begin work on the lock and dam.

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