OK, I’m very happy to admit it. As a longtime Augustan, I have always been in total awe of the Savannah River.
When I was a young boy it was really hard for me to understand when my father told me that it went “all the way to the ocean!”
Wow! The ocean? To me, that meant the beach, which to a kid sure is a long, long way from home.
That immediately got me to asking him if the crabs and sharks could swim all the way from the Atlantic and bite my older sisters and me. He assured me that they couldn’t, but that’s not what I told my siblings.
Late last year Tonya Bonitatibus, from the Savannah Riverkeeper, took me on a day-long boat ride on the Savannah to the Shell Bluff area.
It was a day I shall never forget. The serene beauty of the meandering river revealed nature’s secrets at every bend. How does one describe the indescribable?
With just a very few exceptions, the banks of the Savannah downstream from Augusta have remained in their natural state. Some homes and trailers can be seen occasionally but it’s mostly just good old mother nature doing her thing.
OOH, THAT SMELL! DEPT. That changed quickly a few miles later when we arrived at International Paper. Tonya warned me that the smell from chemical discharges into the Savannah would be intense, but I had no idea that it would reek as badly as it does. That unforgettable stench reminded me immediately of the smell of rotten eggs. Yikes! Just what is going in our water, aside from the pollution left by the public?
I was shocked to discover that the Savannah was ranked the fourth most-polluted waterway in the nation in a 2012 report released by Environment America Research and Policy Center.
Marisa Harris from the Riverkeeper staff told me that DSM Chemicals and International Paper are among the largest dischargers of toxic materials in our area, even if they are within Environmental Protection Division limits.
Tonya also showed me where she and her staff and volunteers have removed many abandoned boats that were leaking oil and gas into the water. The Riverkeeper gets more calls about these houseboats, trawlers, and other craft than anything else and removing them is expensive.
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER DEPT. Yes, it’s obvious that the Savannah Riverkeeper needs our help … and support.
The classic rock band Number 9 that I have been a part of for eight years wants to do our fair share to keep our river clean.
We will be performing at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater to raise funds for the Riverkeeper’s work.
Tickets are only $25 with children 12 and under free. They will be available at the venue or online at number9river.eventbrite.com.
The band and I will play classic rock from Santana, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Jim Croce, The Beatles, and many more. We’re even bringing along our five-piece horn section to rock the Savannah with an unforgettable evening of family-friendly entertainment.
Beverages will be available and you can bring a picnic for your family and friends.
For the first time ever in Number 9’s history, we are also featuring an opening act. Fourteen-year-old singer-songwriter Skilyr Hicks from North Augusta will do the honors. Skilyr will definitely turn some heads with her extraordinary talent. She’s really something!
WHAT IF IT RAINS? DEPT. If the weather does not cooperate, no worries. We will hold the show right next to the amphitheater at Augusta’s beautiful new Augusta Convention Center, also known as the TEE Center, at 328 Reynolds St. Regardless of the venue, parking is easy at the TEE Parking Plaza right next door.
Join us Saturday at 6 as Number 9 wants you to enjoy great classic rock on the river, at the river, and for the river.