Riverkeeper proposes plan revisions to Corps of Engineers for Lock and Dam

CSRA News

The Corps. of Engineers held a public commentary for the Savannah River lock and dam.

Newschannel 6 spoke to a fisherman, and he’s not letting the corps off the hook over the lock and dam. The Riverkeeper is weighing in with some revisions.

Homeowners didn’t take the bait on the Corps of Engineers first plan, so now, fishermen are wondering if they will still be allowed to cast their reels on a daily basis.

Fisherman, Kenny Vann, says, “my concern, and this is my concern, will I be able to fish, just like everyone else.”

Coming to the park, hooking a line, and reeling in a nice catch is what many fisherman, just like Kenny, enjoy on a daily basis.

“Well, I hope they don’t do anything to this. I hope they don’t tear it out,” says Vann.

The federal government doesn’t see the value in the lock and dam anymore, but environmentalists say it’s needed to keep a fish population moving upstream.

Riverkeeper, Tonya Bonitatibus, says, “any money that gets spent on this project has to pass fish. So, you can’t use that pot of money if you’re going to fix the lock and dam.”

Tearing the structure down, rather than fixing it, is what the Corps of Engineers plan to do.

“The current plan is to dig this whole structure out, so much of this park would be gone,” says Bonitatibus.

After a demonstration outraged the community of what a rock weir would do to the river levels, the Riverkeeper came up with another plan.

“A set of gates across the top of the rock dam that would be able to stay up, keep the water higher upstream so you would have far less of an impact. In fact, maybe a foot vs. a three foot that you saw,” says Bonitatibus.

If the river floods, these gates come down to pour that extra foot out making it safer for recreation on the river.

“These things are not being designed safely for people to move through them. They are being designed for fish, and so for that reason, we very strongly believe there needs to be some kind of a bypass channel that allows folks to get around,” says Bonitatibus.

As folks get around, fishermen, like Keny, can catch some dinner, or even just enjoy the sport.

“Fishing is a way of our life, and it’s out heritage, and it has to be protected, there is no question about that,” says Bonitatibus.

The Corps of Engineers is legally required to respond to the comments the public expressed for their decision.

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