SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Savannah River level in the Augusta area reached target elevation today as part of the simulation planned to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District as well as the public to observe the summer conditions expected with the fish passage recommended plan, known as Alternative 2-6d. The recommended plan involves construction of a rock weir which would take the place of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in order to maintain a pool in Augusta.
The Corps’ Savannah District intends to hold the river level at the simulated elevation for about seven days. During this time Corps officials will be in the area for several days observing conditions and collecting aerial imagery along the shoreline with a drone.
The simulation will also enable engineers to compare computer model projections of shoreline and depth with observed conditions of the simulation. The Corps created a Shoreline Mapping webpage where users can view Savannah District’s model projections of depth and shoreline at a river flow of 5,000 cubic feet per second, which is the low end of average flows. See the web tool here: http://water.sas.usace.army.mil/nsbld.
Officials expect to release the draft report on the plan Feb. 14. The report discloses all the Corps’ work, modelling and analysis. A 30-day comment period will follow the release of the draft report. This will allow the general public to review the report, observe simulated conditions and if desired, submit informed comments.
As part of the 30-day comment period Savannah District officials plan to hold an interactive workshop in the Augusta area in early March where people can attend to learn more about the report through various stations staffed with experts, as well as provide comments either in writing or through dictation. The workshop date will be announced once confirmed.
Savannah District officials will address each comment in writing, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Fish Passage project is an environmental mitigation feature of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, and is required mitigation in accordance with the Endangered Species Act and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The project will enable the endangered shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, among other fish species to regain access to their historic spawning grounds.
Due to increased rainfall since November, river flows have been three to four times greater than average flow volumes causing the water level to remain about a foot above normal levels. Local residents may be accustomed to seeing water levels that are higher than normal for the last three months. Because of this the simulation appears more dramatic than when compared to what is typically observed in downtown Augusta between June and October.
Officials also urge caution and safety awareness for boaters and others near the water throughout the duration of this simulation. Increased river flow over the last several months may have brought in or moved large debris. And with the lower water level of the simulation, objects under the water will be closer to the surface and could cause obstructions.
For more on the fish passage and the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, see our past blog posts here. (Comments left on the blog are not considered public comments for the purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act. Public comments must be submitted as outlined in the formal announcement.) For a history of the lock and dam, check our webpage here.
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