Area residents who want to save the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in the wake of last month's drawdown of the river should be heartened that private companies are looking at the project as a potential for hydroelectric power.
If private ownership can be worked out with federal, state and local governments, then taxpayers would be spared both the $7 million in repair costs and $300,000 in annual maintenance costs -- all without losing the pool of water that makes scenic Riverwalk in downtown Augusta a tourist and water sports mecca.
Of course, the power company would have to agree to rules that would not commercially or environmentally damage affected communities. There is precedent. South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. operates Stevens Creek Dam under such an arrangement.