Originally created 01/19/00

Many blame Corps for damage



Draining a river that hasn't been drained in 63 years brought a lot of Augustans -- and some out-of-towners -- to the waterfront Tuesday.

"I hope this is the only time I see it like this," said Tim Jones of Clearwater, who was among hundreds of sightseers along Riverwalk Augusta. "It's not as bad as I thought it'd be, but I like the normal way."

The Army Corps of Engineers, which drained the river as an experiment to determine whether the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam should be closed, plans to begin refilling the river today.

For many who visited the waterfront Tuesday, it won't be soon enough.

"If this doesn't wake people up, nothing will," said Pat Sloane of Augusta. "I don't know where they'll get the money to do it, but they need to maintain the river because this is a pretty area when the water's normal."

Steve Hair of Augusta brought his camera to record the low water, which he hopes is a once-in-a-lifetime view.

"Some people say it's back to its natural state, but we built this thing up like a lake," he said. "There is so much invested publicly and privately on this river. Now it's an eyesore.

"Some of these people's properties are worthless now. There have to be a lot of people come together on this. ... The money's got to come from somewhere. The government can't just put it on (the taxpayer's) back."

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227 or Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.