Army Corps Upsets Augusta, Mollifies Gainesville

There’s always a lot going on regarding water and water policy in Georgia. Whether it be the Tri-State Water Wars, Restoring the proper boundary with Tennessee in the middle of the Tennessee River, Definitions of waterways subject to federal jurisdiction, or the control of water levels, there are constant struggles. This week the Army Corps of Engineers have center stage on two of these items.

Breaking this morning is a dispute that began in a briefing that we’re still awaiting details. What we know at this point is generally contained in this Facebook post from Augusta’s Austin Rhodes radio show:

Updated: We reached out to Rep Allen’s office and received the following press release:

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Congressmen Rick W. Allen (GA-12) and Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division announced they will proceed with the removal of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam and move forward with Alternative 2-6D, which was simulated in February 2019 with disastrous results:

“Since the day the Corps announced their disastrous plans to remove the Lock and Dam and replace it with a rock weir, we have fought their decision tooth and nail – and warned the Corps that they will not be able to maintain the pool, as required under federal law. In a bicameral, bi-state manner, the Senators and members of Congress representing the CSRA sent a letter to the Corps saying that the intent of Congress was to maintain the pool level at the date of enactment—not for functionality like the Corps claims. To lower the pool level in such an irreversible manner would negatively impact recreation, economic development and the industries up and down the river, not to mention an increased chance of flooding.

“Today’s announcement is not only an affront to the public who have raised concerns throughout this process, it also blatantly disregards the warnings put forth by the recent Independent External Peer Review Report and the jarring results of the February 2019 simulation. Despite the report validating the community’s concerns, the Corps has decided to ignore the will of the American people and the intent of Congress, and move forward in a display of tyranny. We will not stop fighting this gross overreach and misuse of power, and we have warned the Corps that we will continue to hold them accountable. Georgians and South Carolinians deserve better.”

The state of South Carolina is expected to file a lawsuit against the Corps as early as this week.

Effects of Alternative 2D-6 (Photo supplied by Congressman Allen’s office)

Meanwhile, in Gainesville, the Army Corps was apparently not content to occasionally drain Lake Lanier to provide water downstream at a higher level during droughts than would occur during normal rainfall, so they had previously decided to increase the federal tax on docks. They’ve hit the brakes on that proposal. Details are in the following press release from Congressman Doug Collins.

WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the following statement after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced they will pause and reassess a fee increase for dock and land-based facility permits along the shorelines of Federal reservoirs and waterways in the South Atlantic Division. According to the announcement, the Corps will delay the implementation of fee increases in order to conduct a national review of the shoreline management program fees.

“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell—and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways—will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January,” said Collins.

“I want to thank Brigadier General Holland for meeting with me today to discuss my concerns and explore ways in which the Corps could accomplish their intended goal without placing an undue burden on individuals and families living throughout the southeast. I look forward to continuing to engage with the Corps as they study this issue.”

On June 6, 2019, the Corps announced the implementation of a revised fee schedule for dock and land-based facility permits in the South Atlantic Division (SAD). Under the revised fee schedule, which would have gone into effect on January 1, 2020, new dock or facility permits would have increased from $400 to $835 and re-issue permits would have increased from $175 to $835.

On June 14, 2019, Collins sent a letter to the Corps expressing his concern and requesting more information on the anticipated cost increase for dock and facility permits.

On August 26, 2019, Collins sent an additional letter to the Corps demanding a more thorough explanation on the anticipated cost increase for dock and facility permits.

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