Swimming in canal illegal, unsafe

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The tragic drownings covered in the June 16 edition of The Augusta Chronicle prompt me to write with additional cautions about safely enjoying the water in and near the Augusta Canal.

Swimming in the canal is not allowed. Although it may appear safe, the swift, treacherous currents caused by the intake gates near the mills, the waterworks pumping station and the Olmstead Bulkhead can trap even strong swimmers.

With the onset of hot weather, local media outlets have been running photos and stories about the aqueduct area and the Raes Creek spillway area as a great place to swim. As inviting as it may be on a hot summer day, this area can be a dangerous place for swimming.

Because it is a drainage overflow for the canal, unexpected rushes of water can roar down the natural rock slide. The water can go from a trickle to a torrent with no warning. In addition, the drop-off in the pool below is sudden. Waders on the rock ledge can easily step off into water over their heads -- a serious danger for non-swimmers.

This summer we've also seen an increase in other risky behaviors, such as jumping off canal bridges, docks and the railroad trestle adjacent to the raw water pumping station. This is dangerous and illegal. The canal is only about 10 feet deep and has logs and other underwater obstructions in addition to the swimming risk noted above. Jumpers risk serious injury.

For public safety, swimming in the canal has been illegal for 150 years. Swimming in the Raes Creek canal spillway is not advised. For the safety of the public, please discourage your readers from taking these risks.

Rebecca Rogers


(The writer is director of marketing and external affairs for the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area.)

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Brad Owens
Brad Owens 06/22/11 - 06:16 am
Great Letter, Informative and

Great Letter,

Informative and may help save lives.

No fun is worth risking your life.

Swim in the swimming pool or at the safe places along the river.


faithson 06/22/11 - 10:00 am
Ms. Rogers missed the most

Ms. Rogers missed the most important reason not to swim in the canal... according to a local GA EPA worker, the water is not safe. They (a friend) indicated that above all, no swimming because of poor water quality. Of course the effluent coming in the canal at Columbia County waste station may have some effect on his advise. Never could understand why Columbia County could not pipe the waste water over into the river, unless they want to bypass the intake at pumping station.

mosovich 06/22/11 - 10:09 am
The problem is those that

The problem is those that need to read this, won't even glace at it and don't care. There were about 20 kids jumping off the bridge where Lake Olmstead and the canal cross at.. Hopefully the sherrif's department will start enforcing this before someone get's hurt.. Of course they probably won't or can't due to budget cuts.. What a shame..

Pu239 06/22/11 - 07:03 pm
If there were a shiny new

If there were a shiny new baseball stadium nobody would be swimming in the canal....(sarcasm meter offscale)

wildman 06/23/11 - 03:27 am
Thanks to a bunch of thugs

Thanks to a bunch of thugs jumping off the overpass on the canal almost ruined our Fathers Day outing. Foul language, jumping near the boat splashing us with water and a not so attractive female (not a lady) laying on a deck like she was posing for an adult magazine almost ruined our day. I want to thank the ACNHF for doing an outstanding job regardless of some of Augusta's finest. These folks will ruin this otherwise great family outing.

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