Issue Paper Atlanta Job Corps Center DOL

PROJECT NAME AND STATE:  Savannah River Below Augusta, GA



LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION: The navigation project begins at the end of Savannah Harbor (mile 21.31) and continues to river mile 202.6 at Augusta, GA.  The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam is located 187 river miles above Savannah Harbor, GA and is approximately 13 miles downstream of Augusta, GA.  The project’s original purpose was to provide for passage of commercial navigation on the Savannah River between the cities of Savannah and Augusta.  The recreation area is leased to Augusta/Richmond County. 

ACTIVITIES FOR FY 2022  Perform caretaker activities of the lock and dam, and some routine required real estate, safety, and structural inspections.  Collect cost estimates for repair of the failed hydraulic lifting cylinders on gates 2 and 3.   

ACTIVITIES FOR FY 2023:  Perform caretaker activities of the lock and dam and some routine required real estate, safety, and structural inspections.  Complete a formal periodic assessment of the structure and replace an aged and unreliable emergency backup generator.

ISSUES AND OTHER INFORMATION:  The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam (NSBLD) provides a pool upstream between Augusta, GA and North Augusta, SC used for drinking water, recreation and industrial uses.  Commercial navigation through the lock ceased in the 1970’s.  Due to structural safety concerns in 2014 the lock wall was closed for public fishing access and the lock is no longer operated.  Spillway gates 2 and 3 are not fully operational due to failing hydraulic lift cylinder seals, gate 2 can be used, gate 3 can only be set to the fully open position and blocked into place.  Funding is being sought for hydraulic lift cylinder repairs. 

The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 authorized the rehabilitation of the lock, dam and spillway and transfer of ownership to the City of North Augusta.  The construction of a fish ladder was also authorized under a 2001 appropriations act. The lock has deteriorated and regularly experienced mechanical failures prior to closure.  Inspections also show portions of the concrete structure are failing.  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 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (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).  

ADMINISTRATION POSITION:  This project is consistent with current Administration policy.

ACTION OFFICER:  Michael C. Chirpich                               31 March 2022