Lock and Dam included on congressional draft funding bill

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Jul. 16—The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam has remained in the interest of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lawmakers in Washington D.C. included the project on the draft bill for energy and water which, "encourages the Corps to work expeditiously toward a resolution that will ensure existing water levels are maintained, as required in section 1319 of the WIIN Act of 2016."

The Energy and Water development funding bill for Fiscal Year 2022 will cost $53.226 billion, an increase of $1.474 billion over 2021, according to the committee.

The Lock and Dam straddles Georgia and South Carolina with the goal to replace the dam with a rock weir. Doing so would lower the river water level approximately 2 feet from average conditions, also known as Alternative 2-6d.

The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam has been tied up in court, where a federal judge ruled in favor of the State of South Carolina over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., believes the plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be "detrimental to the North Augusta community."

"It is great to see that the Army Corps is now permanently enjoined from entering into any plan that would not 'maintain the pool' that was in existence on the date of enactment of the 2016 'Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.' I and my colleagues in Congress have continued to fight against the Corps' actions, maintaining that the Corps has acted against the clear intent of the language of the WIIN Act, requiring that the pool be maintained at 114.5 feet," Wilson said in a statement on Nov. 24. 2020.

S.C. Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta, was excited to hear about federal money going toward the lock and dam.

"If it wasn't for South Carolina, we would be in big trouble," Hixon said. "... My saying is, I'm proud to be South Carolina's riverfront, I don't want to be South Carolina's creekfront. So if you take away the lock and dam, you drop the water levels where it's like a mud flat out there."

The markup on the draft bill was to begin Friday, July 16. From there, the bill will have to pass through both houses of Congress.

Samantha Winn covers the city of North Augusta, with a focus on government and community oriented business. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews.

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