The fish of Bowen Pond received some unexpected company last week when two backhoes joined their watery domain.
While dredging the pond, one backhoe slipped off an underwater mat meant to provide the machine traction and distribute its weight, said Columbia County Water Utilities Director William Clayton.
The mat beneath another backhoe sent in to rescue the first sunk and trapped it as well, Clayton said.
"I've seen one stuck plenty of times, but it's my first time seeing two," he said.
The pond inside the West Lake subdivision of Martinez is being dredged as part of a $570,000 county project. The contractors conducting the work are Atlanta-based Delmonico Restoration and Development.
In a statement e-mailed Monday afternoon, Delmonico President Anthony Nievera wrote, "Our priorities include the safety of our employees and our equipment, as well as the safety of area stakeholders and their property.
"While the events surrounding the impacted equipment do present a minor setback, we are confident that we will recover the equipment as soon as practicable.
"We anticipate completing our contract with Columbia County on time and on budget," Nievera wrote.
Clayton said that he was told the backhoes still are operational.
"They're not damaged, believe it or not," he said. "They're just stuck."
Clayton said more equipment has been brought to the site to remove the stranded backhoes, but he was unsure when a third rescue attempt will get underway.
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