The Corps of Engineers' New Savannah Bluff Dam
This is the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, located very close to Bush Field, Augusta's airport. If we are understanding the ACOE's information properly, it is about 13 miles downstream of downtown Augusta. It was completed in 1937, to provide for commercial navigation between Augusta and Savannah, using the lock and regulating flow to maintain the downstream channel depth of nine feet. Commercial traffic ceased in either 1979 or the early 80's, depending on which report summary you choose, but it is used intermittently for recreational craft. The City of Augusta operates the lock under a lease agreement with the ACOE, but the ACOE wants to decommision it and tear it out. Best we can tell, as of FY2002, there was $215,000 funded for maintenance of the thing, with an ongoing "General Investigation" looking into what to do with it. The ACOE wants out because they were footing the entire bill... general concensus is they are making noise about tearing it out to scare some money out of the City of Augusta. Since it is not actually used for navigation anymore, and never did contribute to flood control... maybe the ACOE has a point?
The dam is 360 feet long, consisting of five 60 foot wide gates between concrete piers. The gates on each end are 12 foot high overflow types, the other three are 15 foot high non-overflow types. Lock dimensions are given as 56 feet wide by 360 feet long, with a nominal lift of 15 feet... when it is functioning, that is. This project is in dire need of repairs. As far as we can tell, this is the only lock on the Savannah River, not counting the primitive locks associated with the Augusta Canal.
This is a closeup of the mechanism for one side of the floodgates. The gates are controlled remotely from the Clarks Hill project upstream.
The "control tower". Actually, the mechanisms to control the lock looked like they were outside, beside each gate.
We finally found a copy of the disposition report. Try this link (its a pdf file), and if its broken, try a web search on "New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam". There we found the specs for the dam, and some other information that will leave you looking at the ceiling! Stuff like, sure, the community of North Augusta, SC will assume ownership of the project, but only if the federal government makes the 10 million bucks worth of repairs the dam and lock needs, AND agrees to all maintenance costs in the future! The Corps is trying to get out from under the cost of maintaining a project that is obsolete and outside of its charter in the first place! Why would they agree to something like that?
You have to wonder if Corps and TVA personnel ever get together to commiserate over a beer about some of the ridiculous situations they find themselves in!