Comment period on future of lock & dam extended, passing fish remains priority

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, added an additional 30 days to the comment period related to plans to pass fish upstream of the existing New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam near Augusta, Georgia.

The extension will end on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at 4 p.m. Eastern time. The comment period began on Feb. 16.

The Corps of Engineers has recommended adding a rock weir to the Savannah River and removing the lock and dam in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

To meet the law’s requirement, the Corps must give the endangered shortnose sturgeon access to former spawning grounds above the lock and dam. The draft recommended plan provides for the highest probability to successfully pass fish while not inducing flooding.

“Part of my decision to grant a 30-day extension was to accommodate requests from local and federal officials,” said Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Savannah District. “But another big part of the decision was prompted from my engagements and personal assessments with residents in their backyards in Augusta and North Augusta during the simulation exercise.”

“While we are steadfast in our commitment to meeting our legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act, there is understandably a tremendous amount of public interest,” added Hibner.

“We want to make sure everyone with an interest in the fish passage project has ample time to understand and provide comment on this extremely important mitigation project.”

The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam opened in 1937 to aid river commerce on the Savannah River between Augusta and Savannah. Regular commercial traffic on the Savannah River ended in 1979. The recommended plan would bring the project into compliance with the ESA.

The Corps’ recommended plan will allow fish to access spawning areas closed since the lock and dam opened. It will also maintain a pool along Augusta’s riverfront.

The public can submit comments two ways:

  • By mail: Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Planning Division,
    ATTN: Ms. Robin Armetta (PM-P), 100 West Oglethorpe Avenue, Savannah, Georgia 31401-3604
  • By email: CESAS-PD@usace.army.mil

In addition, the Corps will provide a means for the public to submit verbal comments for the record during an interactive workshop on March 6, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Augusta Marriott (at the Convention Center), Two Tenth Street, in Augusta, Georgia. The event will be held in the Lamar Room.

~ Billy Birdwell, Corporate Communications Office

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multimillion dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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