3 died at Corps lakes over July 4th weekend

Tanya Grant, park ranger at Hartwell Lake, encourages visitors to always wear life jackets while swimming or boating. Visitors can borrow life jackets through the Corps’ Life Jacket Loaner Program.

Over the Independence Day weekend three fatalities at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supervised lakes could have been prevented with a simple piece of equipment: a life jacket.

According to the Corps’ statistics, most recreation fatalities occur outside designated recreational areas managed by the Corps of Engineers.

During the holiday, a former Clemson running back drowned while swimming in Richard B. Russell Lake, a father drowned in Hartwell Lake after a boat collision, and a teen died from a head injury while diving into J. Strom Thurmond Lake to avoid a fireworks mishap on a dock.

“It’s very unusual for us to have one at each lake like this,” said Joe Melton, Savannah District Recreation program manager. “Over the last five-plus years we’ve averaged about seven fatalities for the whole year. And in each case, they were not wearing a life jacket.”

By law, the Corps provides recreational facilities and opportunities on the lakes it manages. Types of recreation facilitated and enhanced by the Corps include swimming, boating, fishing and water skiing, plus land-based activities.

“We want everyone to be able to get out there and have a good time, but do it in a safe manner,” said Melton.

To be safe in and around the water people can do things like use the Corps’ designated swim areas, or for the boaters, take a boating safety class, but the most important thing when boating, according to Melton, is wearing a personal flotation device.

“The individual states have rules for life jacket usage based on age as to whether one has to wear them all the time or just have them available; however, the states mandate boaters must have a personal flotation device for every individual on their vessel,” said Melton.

Park ranger assistance, information kiosks, life jacket loaner stations and websites are some of the Corps-provided resources available to the public for water safety.

“The bottom line is, think ahead and plan to make sure you have a good time on the lake,” said Melton.

~ Jonathan Bell, Corporate Communications Office

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Corps to study Augusta’s ‘training wall’

SAVANNAH, Ga. An underwater wall installed in the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia, more than a century ago will be the subject of a just-funded study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District.

The so-called “training wall” in the Savannah River runs from just downstream of 8th Street and ends 1,800 feet downstream of Boathouse Community Center.

It aided commercial shipping in the 20th century by keeping the navigation channel deep for the port in Augusta on the Georgia side of the river.

“Today the training wall no longer serves a federal purpose,” said Beth Williams, Savannah District chief of Hydraulics and Hydrology. “In fact, many point out that it is an impediment to navigation and that its presence increases the risks to water-borne activities for its nearly two-mile-long length of the river in the downtown Augusta area.”

Officials are scheduled to determine if federal interest in the existing navigation no longer exists and the project remains a candidate for a disposition study in approximately 60 days.

One of the potential outcomes of the study is a recommendation to remove the wall at full federal expense. Removing the training wall could also lead to removal of built up sediment behind it along the North Augusta, South Carolina, portion of the river.

Clearing away the sediment behind the training wall would alleviate hazardous obstructions, deepen water levels, and potentially remove unsightly mudflats.

If the study recommends removal of the training wall, the execution would require an appropriation from Congress to complete the work.

The training wall, originally installed in 1902, forced more water into the main river channel in order to keep that area clear for commercial traffic. Commercial use of the Savannah River ended in 1979 and maintenance of the river as a commercial waterway also ended that year.

This disposition study is separate from the study underway concerning the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam and the proposed fish passage at the dam’s location.

~ Billy Birdwell, Corporate Communications Office

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Study to examine effects of ‘re-bending’ Savannah River

Duck Cut is an example of a cutoff bend being disconnected at both ends, which affects the water quality of the Savannah River and the quantity of available aquatic habitats. A Savannah District team is developing a solution to restore some of the 46 bends put in the river for historical commercial navigation dating back to the late 1800s. (Photo: Google Earth)

SAVANNAH, Ga. — In the late 1800s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others cut through 46 bends in the Savannah River below Augusta to aid commercial navigation. Now the Corps wants to know how these “shortcuts” have impacted the river’s ecosystem and which ones make the best candidates for restoring. Continue reading

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Holding strong — all summer long?

The Savannah River Basin roared into summer last month.

Hartwell and Thurmond each collected 6.8 inches of rain in June – a full 2 and 3 inches above their averages, respectively. Russell pulled in a solid 5 inches compared to its 3.8-inch average. Continue reading

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Summer heat hits striped bass hard

Anthony Rabern (left) and Tony Anderson, biologist and technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, retrieve data tracking information from tagged fish in Lake Hartwell on the Georgia-South Carolina state line.

No one argues that summer heat in the South climbs well above the comfort level – for humans and animals. Continue reading

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June showers make up for May’s wilted flowers

You know that feeling when you take a sip of ice cold water and you can feel it go all the way down your esophagus? That was last week after the unbearably dry month of May.

It was so dry for the Savannah River Basin (“How dry was it?!”) that each of the sub-basins surpassed their monthly totals for May in just the first full weekend in June alone. Continue reading

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Dredging pilot project could be a game-changer for Georgia coast

A drone’s eye view of the 5-acre plot where the thin layer placement portion of the pilot project is being conducted near Jekyll Creek.

JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. – Conventional wisdom warns against building on shaky ground, but the future of Georgia’s coastline could very well rest on 5 acres of “pluff mud.”

(Watch a video about the pilot project here.) Continue reading

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Thurmond: Set a course for full pool

After what feels like a decade in the making, contractors finished repairing the 23 seals on Thurmond’s gates last week. (Full exhale). Continue reading

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Flowers or not, April’s rain still welcome

The Savannah River Basin continued its march toward summer with stable, (mostly) above average rainfall in April.

Hartwell kicked it up a notch, collecting a solid 6.2 inches compared to its 4.6-inch average. Continue reading

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Children brighten up the workplace

The 30 children who took part in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District’s National Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event, April 25, 2019, pose in the lobby in their best engineer stance.

Savannah District hosted 30 children as part of National Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, April 25. Continue reading

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