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. 

The Georgia Ports Authority has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit related to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam.

The state of South Carolina filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in November, and in December the City of Augusta filed a motion to intervene.

The Georgia Ports Authority is the cooperating agency for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The motion states that as the state owner and operator of port facilities that benefit from the harbor project, the Georgia Ports Authority “has a strong economic interest in the SHEP.”

“If GPA is not permitted to intervene,” the motion later reads, “its ability to protect its interests could be impaired because the Plaintiffs seek to alter, delay and/or stop the SHEP.”

South Carolina’s suit proposes as a declaratory judgment 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 deauthorized Lock and Dam that would allow fish to migrate upstream. The Corps announced in November 2018 its chosen alternative, a set of rock weirs, which they have stated would lower the average river height by around 2 feet.

“The State filed a lawsuit against the Corps to prevent it from tearing down the historic New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam (NSBLD) and replacing it with another structure that would result in the lowering of the water level by over five feet,” states an October press release from the South Carolina attorney general’s office about the lawsuit.

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.