City Ink: Will politicians fight for Savannah River?

Elected officials have been talking for years about building a pedestrian bridge between Augusta and North Augusta, but nobody ever thought it could turn out to be a mud bridge.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ drawdown of the Savannah River last week was a big comedown for Augusta and North Augusta, with fallen boat docks, ugly barren banks, hideous exposed bridge pilings, mud flats, sand bars and menacing rocks lurking just beneath the surface.

So if the federal, state and local elected officials in Georgia and South Carolina can’t manage to get another 3 to 5 feet of water in the pool and save folks in Augusta and North Augusta from having to gaze out across dried-up mudflats, what good are they?

That was a rhetorical question.

Yes, past officials knew the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam was going to be deauthorized, torn down and a way made for sturgeon to get upstream to spawn, which they’ve had a hard time doing since the lock and dam was built in 1938. They knew it. The officials, that is, knew it, not the sturgeon. The sturgeon just knew they were frustrated.

The politicians talked about it but did nothing because that’s what politicians do. Talk, talk, talk. Until something bad happens or is about to happen, and reality smacks them in the face – like a cold dead sturgeon. Then they blame their predecessors for being short-sighted.

And now the reality of the river lowered in downtown Augusta and North Augusta and everywhere else as far as the eye can see is shocking. I don’t care what the Riverkeeper says.

Residents have 30 days to comment on the Corps’ proposed plan that would destroy the Lock and Dam Park and turn it into a big, ugly ditch to handle future floodwaters.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Rick Allen was in town Friday and vowed to fight to get the lock and dam restored and keep a higher pool of water upstream.

That’s what it’s going to take, but are other congressmen, senators, mayors, commissioners and council members willing to get down in the mud and fight for the beautiful Savannah River and the area’s future?

Allen said he might even appeal to President Donald Trump. And Trump, as part of his declaration of a national emergency to get money for his border wall, could borrow (Dems would say “steal”) some of the $600 million of the Savannah Port deepening project to repair the lock and dam and build a fish passage for the sturgeon. It would delay the port deepening but take the politicians off the hook and make the sturgeon happy.

Don’t Play Poker with the Judge: Richmond County Superior Court Chief Judge Carl Brown was at the Augusta Commission committee meetings Tuesday but didn’t speak, possibly because two committees didn’t meet. Whatever he was there for, he’ll probably get, though.

He outfoxed commissioners a few weeks ago when he asked for $120,000 worth of raises for seven Juvenile Court employees, one of them…

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