AUGUSTA, Ga. – The U.S. Army Corps is appealing a federal court decision that it cannot tear down a dam on the Savannah River.
The Augusta Chronicle reports that the agency announced this week that it will appeal against the November decision of US District Judge Richard Gergel, which blocks the removal of the dam.
Gergel ruled that the Corps of Engineers must comply with a 2016 law that required water levels to be maintained at current levels after suing the state of South Carolina and the city of Augusta in 2019.
The Corps of Engineers is proposing to remove the New Savannah Bluff Reservoir and Dam, about 10 miles south of Augusta, and replace it with a series of rock weirs that would allow the fish to swim upstream. The agency says the fish habitat needs to be improved as part of a plan to expand the port of Savannah near the estuary.
Governments, industries and private property owners opposed the plan, building property dependent on the elevated river level provided by the dam. The trial took place after the church formally decided to continue with the plan in October 2019. A trial draw followed.
It is not clear how the appeal will affect Gergel’s directive that the College of Engineers will draw up an alternative plan.
“The Fourth District (Court of Appeal) is now given the opportunity to look at it.” No wonder the church appealed, “said Bob Pettit, mayor of North Augusta, South Carolina. “I’m not sure the delay that would make any decision.”
North Augusta had hoped to work with the church to develop an alternative plan, but the talks had not yet taken place, Pettit said.
“We want a solution and we hoped we would have a dialogue with the church about what we would agree to before starting the process,” he said.
Pettit previously said he would like to see Congress resume operational funding for the lock and dam built in 1937.