Lake Olmstead dredging project making progress

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The multi-million dollar dredging project that took years to plan now has just a few months left before wrapping up in November.

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“Dredging is simply removing sediment from the bottom of a body of water to create more depth,” Veterans for Clean Water coordinator, Truck Carlson said.

Sediment usually makes its way into lakes as runoff from construction projects, which Carlson says is not uncommon in urban areas.

But all the sediment makes lake water too shallow for activities like fishing or kayaking.

“This is a kayak pull out point from Savannah Rapids. There are rowing regattas that happen on Lake Olmstead, there are people who fish here on a daily basis, and the occasional disc golfer who goes into the water to retrieve one of his discs,” Carlson said.

And shallow lake water brings a laundry list of other problems, like becoming a petri dish for bacteria dangerous to people and wildlife.

“Bacteria is always in the water. It’s just natural,” Carlson said. “It’s one of the most prolific naturally occurring substances out there. However, too much of a good thing isn’t [good].”

And shallow water in direct sunlight can become unbearably hot.

“Last summer it was about 92 degrees during the summer, which is not good for things that live in the water,” Carlson said.

So the city of Augusta raised money from a SPLOST (special purpose local optional sales tax), and Augusta-Richmond County storm water to make the project happen.

Carlson says they’re about 45-50 percent of the way done, and had huge success on the portion of the lake just north of Washington Road.

“This area behind me got filled in to where it was only a foot deep in some places, and in the middle was probably an acre island of sediment that had built up, and then trees were growing up on it.” Carlson said. “They removed that entire island along with all the sediment below and now it’s about 8-10 feet deep, which is fabulous.”

Carlson says he looks forward to seeing people get back to enjoying the lake when the dredging project is complete in November.


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