Access to canal area being evaluated

Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 5:06 PM
Last updated 8:20 PM
  • Follow Metro

Safety buoys placed in the Savannah River above the Augusta Canal headgates last week are part of a plan to restore canoe and kayak access to a scenic area otherwise bounded by private land.

Back | Next
Swirling eddies above the Augusta Canal headgates illustrate the powerful flow that prompted placement of safety buoys in the Savannah River upstream.  ROB PAVEY/STAFF
Swirling eddies above the Augusta Canal headgates illustrate the powerful flow that prompted placement of safety buoys in the Savannah River upstream.

“We’ve added eight buoys in an arc, about 300 feet or so from the dam,” said Allen Saxon, assistant director of the Augusta Utilities Department, which operates the canal to provide drinking water for the city.

Safety concerns escalated in May after three kayakers paddling above the city Diversion Dam were swept through the canal’s intake gates.

The paddlers survived, but the accident prompted the closure in July of the canoe and kayak launch site near the headgates, where powerful currents are formed as water flows into the canal.

Now that the safety buoys are in place, the department is evaluating the best way to restore public access to the scenic segment of the river sandwiched by private lands between the Stevens Creek Dam and the Augusta Diversion Dam.

“It is still a work in progress, but we are making some progress,” Saxon said.

Although the traditional launch site remains closed and posted, officials are evaluating another site – also on city-owned land – that is just upstream from the original launch area.

“We are working with folks up there to locate a good site that we can create another launch point a little further up,” he said. “Once we get the site identified we’ll just need to get the path cleared.”

Once the site is prepared and opened, it will be a walk-in, or portage, launch area – just as the existing site was, Saxon said.

The department is also developing new signage for the area to further emphasize the danger of paddling or swimming near the intake gates.

Designs for those signs are being coordinated with the Augusta Canal Authority and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Comments (0) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
soapy_725 09/26/13 - 06:25 am
Augusta Utilities Director. Maybe a Kayak/Canoe Tax could help?

Augusta Utilities Director. Maybe a Kayak-Canoe Tax could help?

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Early voting in Augusta-area shows increase
Area early voting numbers are dwarfing turnout four years ago, particularly in Republican-leaning Columbia County, and forecast apossible record voting year for the Augusta area.