Gulf of Mexico
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GA - Judge Says Dam Can't Be Removed if Water Level Will Fall

A federal court says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can’t demolish a dam downriver from Augusta if it doesn’t maintain the current water level.

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) — A federal court says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can't demolish a dam downriver from Augusta if it doesn't maintain the current water level.

U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel ruled Friday that the Corps of Engineers' proposed plan to remove the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam doesn't follow the requirements of a 2016 law that requires the river to be maintained at its current level. The Corps had proposed to remove the dam and build a series of rock weirs across the river, arguing that it's required to improve fish habitat.

But governments, industries and private property owners who built around the elevated river level provided by the dam opposed the plan. The city of Augusta and the state of South Carolina sued to block the removal after the Corps formally decided to go ahead with the plan in October 2019. That followed a trial drawdown.

“In February of 2019, we all witnessed the damage caused when there was a drawdown to simulate water levels if the proposed plan moved forward,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis told The Augusta Chronicle.

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