US Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam, GA & SC

PROJECT NAME AND STATE:  New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, GA and SC

AUTHORIZATION:  Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2000, Sec. 348(1) (P.L. 106-541), amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2000, P.L. 106-554

DEAUTHORIZATION:   Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act 2016, Sec. 1319.




Estimated Federal Cost



Estimated Non-Federal Cost   



Total Estimated Cost   



Allocation thru FY 2017



President's Budget for FY18



Programmed Balance to Complete After FY 2018



:  Navigation. The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam (NSBLD), completed in 1937, is located 187 miles upstream of the mouth of the Savannah River, and approximately 13 miles downstream from Augusta, Georgia.  The project was authorized for commercial navigation; however, due to a lack of commercial use, the project has been in a caretaker status since 1979.  The structure currently provides a stable pool for water supply intakes for twelve large industries and municipalities and recreation to downtown Augusta and areas near the Lock & Dam.  WRDA 2000 authorized the USACE to rehabilitate the lock and dam at full Federal expense with the option to transfer it to North Augusta/Aiken County, South Carolina.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2001 added fish passage to the project and removed the estimated cost from the authorization.  The WIIN Act 2016 deauthorized the NSBLD and repealed/replaced language in WRDA 2000/2001 Appropriations Act with requirements to fulfill fish passage mitigation under the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).

ACTIVITIES COMPLETED IN FY2017:   No activities are projected for FY2017.  The District transmitted the Final NSBLD LRR on 28 July 2016.  The report included updated costs to rehabilitate/repair the lock and dam, rehabilitate/repair the dam only, an updated cost to construct the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) fish passage around the lock and dam and transfer of the lock and dam to the City of North Augusta/Aiken County, SC at a total cost of $55.7M.  South Atlantic Division transmitted the report to HQUSACE on 15 September 2016.  Future activities regarding modification/removal of the deauthorized structure and implementing fish passage will be carried out under the SHEP as outlined in the WIIN Act 2016. 

ACTIVITIES FOR FY2018:  No activities are projected for FY2018.

ISSUES AND OTHER INFORMATION:  WRDA 2000 directed the Corps to rehabilitate the lock and dam at full Federal expense with an option to transfer it to North Augusta/Aiken County, South Carolina following execution of an agreement.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2001 added fish passage and removed the estimated cost from the authorization thereby eliminating a Section 902 limit for the rehabilitation.  Congress did not appropriate Federal funds required to implement the rehabilitation.  The NSBLD has been operated in a caretaker status since 1979 when commercial navigation ceased.  The dam spillway gates are operated to manage pool levels remotely from the control room at J. Strom Thurmond Dam and the City of North Augusta had operated the lock under an agreement with the Corps periodically for recreational boats and provided a means for upstream fish passage (approximately 90 lock movements per year).  However, the condition of the 80 year-old piers and lock walls has significantly deteriorated compelling the Corps to close public access to the lock wall in May 2014 and terminate all lock operations due to safety concerns. 

The WIIN Act 2016 deauthorizes the NSBLD and provides the Secretary with options to modify the SHEP fish passage feature as follows:

            1) Repair the NSBLD lock wall and modify the structure such that the structure is able to:

  • Maintain the pool for navigation, water supply, and recreational activities
  • Allow safe passage over the structure to historic spawning grounds of shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, and other migratory fish; OR

2) Construction at an appropriate location across the Savannah River of a structure that is able to maintain the pool for water supply and recreational activities; and

  • Removal of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam on completion of construction of the fish passage structure; and

3) Conveyance of the park and recreation area adjacent to the NSBLD to Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia, without consideration.

The design and construction to fulfill fish passage requirements as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and included in the approved SHEP project will be cost shared under the SHEP.  The SHEP Biological Opinion that includes construction timelines for the fish passage was amended in Oct 2017 based on the WIIN Act.  The technical PDT is currently evaluating alternatives.  The current draft schedule shows completion of a decision document the first quarter of FY19.                                          

District Submits Final LRR to CESAD (CW 160)                                   28 July 2016 (A)

Division Submits Final LRR to HQUSACE (CW 260)                            15 Sep 2016 (A)

ACTION OFFICER:  Margarett McIntosh                                               01 October 2017