Work continues to rewater third canal level

The third level of the Augusta Canal near the intersection of 12th and Telfair streets is seen on Tuesday. The Augusta Canal Authority hoped to have the canal filled with water by the end of 2011 but are now spending time removing overgrown weeds and standing water.



After a final inspection of a new dam on the third level of the Augusta Canal, work continues to remove sediment and overgrown weeds before it becomes a water-filled attraction.

A $36,000 contract was signed with locally based Blair Construction to remove silt and debris, said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority. Pending bad weather and other unexpected problems, the canal could be filled by month’s end.

“As soon as he gets that finished, we’ll get it watered,” Sherrouse said.

The new dam behind Elliott Sons Funeral Home at 12th and Telfair streets passed inspection in October. The third level between Seventh and 12th streets was intended to handle excess water from the canal’s first level and storm drainage, but it often became an eyesore needing pesky maintenance work.

The canal portion seen from Ninth Street near the John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse has become the worst spot for overgrowth, Sherrouse said.

The $398,000 project includes a large bladder system that fills with air and deflates to raise or lower the dam gates. Although it is an automated system, canal authority staffers received training to manually operate the dam if needed, Sherrouse said.

Behind the funeral home, a pump house contains a control system for the dam, he said.

Proponents of rewatering the canal have said that private development could be attracted to nearby streets and banks. Sherrouse said there are no confirmed projects, although design plans continue for a walking and bike path to run along the top of the canal bank.

A $550,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation will help fund the path. It could be ready for construction bids in August or September, Sherrouse said.



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