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Construction on the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam was completed in 1937. A proposed project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would remove the structure and build a rock weir in its place. 

Both sides of the Savannah River are now part of a lawsuit regarding the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

The City of Augusta has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit, filed by the State of South Carolina, against the Corps of Engineers regarding the lock and dam.

South Carolina filed the lawsuit on Nov. 5. Augusta filed its motion to intervene on Dec. 6.

Augusta’s motion states that the Corps of Engineers and other federal defendants have not “adequately considered” effects to many resources, including the public water supply, 100% of which comes from the Savannah River, as well as parks and historic sites, social and recreational events, and more.

The motion from the City of Augusta states that Augusta has “direct, substantial, and legally protectable interests in this action.”

“Augusta seeks declaratory relief and an order permanently enjoining the Federal Defendants from proceeding with construction of the plan and removal of the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam…” the motion says.

“Augusta does not join in South Carolina’s request to enjoin certain activities in the Savannah Harbor downstream of the NSBLD…” the motion continues.

South Carolina’s suit proposes as a declaratory judgement that the defendants be “enjoined with proceeding with inner harbor dredging of the (Savannah Harbor Expansion Project) until they have proposed an alternative for the NSBLD Project that receives a Navigable Waters Permit and 401 Certification from South Carolina.”

The Corps of Engineers has been tasked with finding an alternative to the lock and dam that would allow fish – specifically shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon – to pass to historic spawning grounds at the Augusta Shoals.

That project is linked with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The Corps announced in late October its plan to move forward with constructing Alternative 2-6d, or a “set of river-width weirs followed by the removal of the deteriorating lock and dam,” according to a news release.

Many local officials expressed frustration with the proposed solution since, according to the same release, that 2-6d would lower the average height of the river in the Augusta area approximately 2 feet from current average conditions.

Follow Lindsey on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges. 

Lindsey is the North Augusta reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017, and grew up in Hodges, SC.