I asked Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver if he thought the Augusta levee could be removed, and his impotent answer was: "It would take an act of Congress." As if that doesn't happen every day.
Many misperceptions exist about the levee, and irrational fear is stoked by our leaders. Is the city safe from a catastrophic upstream dam failure because of the levee? No. Floodwaters would come in behind the levee from Columbia County. Downtown Augusta would be under 50 feet of water within hours (the levee is 30 feet high).
Many think the flood of 1990 was caused by the river overflowing. No; it was fatal mismanagement of the canal. Believe it or not, four people died! The head gates were not closed until 9 a.m. the morning after three days of heavy rain; too late! Secondary streams could not drain into the river, blocked by the canal/levee system. The canal overflowed near MCG. The Savannah River never topped its banks.
Bay Street, alongside the river, once thrived with theaters, restaurants, bars, docks and hotels. Augusta could cut down the levee downtown and sell the property to private developers for millions of dollars. That money could easily offset the new flood insurance costs.
A lovely river vista will unleash a flood of new buildings, jobs, entertainment and sales taxes - not water.
It is so obvious the levee is detrimental and useless; the city's $624,470 engineering study is utter nonsense! Was there a competitive bid process? Not that I know of. Augusta does not even own a crane to close the breaches.
The levee serves only to keep floodwaters enclosed inside the city and to back up the creeks and flood low-lying areas. It is an abomination that has ruined Augusta for a century. Mr. Copenhaver, tear down the levee!
Nancy "Sister" Albert
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.