If you’re interested in our plans for a fish passage near Augusta, Georgia, this post is for you.
We launched a webpage today on the future of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, and the process to get there. The page includes information on the status of the old lock and dam, its connection to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, and its requirement to mitigate for endangered fish.
District engineers continue to work on a number of possible alternatives to meet the intent of Congress as expressed in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The recommended alternative will enable endangered sturgeon to pass upstream and make provisions to secure the pool for recreation and water supply to industry.
Our District officials will recommend a fish passage alternative in a draft report that will be released this coming winter for public review and comment, as indicated on a timeline included on the webpage. The winter release represents a timeline shift from a previous estimate of release in late summer. The delay is caused by a change in one of the model parameters after undergoing an agency technical review (ATR). The ATR is a quality control check performed by a working group of engineers within the Corps. The parameter adjustment required a re-run of the modeling for all the alternatives, as well as the calculations associated with the upstream water intakes. Once all of the data is completed, our engineers will reanalyze and verify the outputs.
We’re planning public-engagement events in the coming months to provide more details on the analysis of the fish passage. Information on these events will be announced on the new webpage.
The new webpage is: https://go.usa.gov/xQRwS
The harbor deepening will enable larger container ships to call on Savannah with greater ease, heavier cargoes and fewer tidal restraints than they currently experience. We partnered with the State of Georgia for the deepening, which is expected to bring a net benefit of $282 million each year to U.S. consumers in transportation cost savings and greater efficiencies. Each dollar invested in the SHEP will return $7.30 to the economy.
The SHEP involves significant environmental mitigation features; the fish passage at the Augusta lock and dam is one of those features. Many other mitigation features are nearing completion. These include a dissolved oxygen injection system that will supply oxygen to the harbor in hotter months, a raw water storage impoundment that will provide additional freshwater storage for the city of Savannah, and the remaining features of work on the flow re-routing of the Savannah River adjacent to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. Removal and relocation of the Civil War ironclad (CSS Georgia) and raising containment area dikes, wrapped up in the summer of 2017. Completion of the dissolved oxygen injection system and the raw water storage impoundment are expected this summer.
Thanks for reading.
~Russell Wicke, Corporate Communications Office