The Army Corps of Engineers will receive $4 billion in federal stimulus funds but has identified more than $12 billion in projects, according to U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who met this week with a corps general in Washington.
"Those figures are nationwide," he said. "The corps has prioritized how it feels those funds should be expended, but they were not yet able to share those details with me."
Mr. Broun, a Republican whose 10th Congressional District includes Columbia County and part of Richmond County, met with Maj. Gen. Meredith W.B. "Bo" Temple, the corps' deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations, to ask about project priorities in the corps' Savannah District, which includes Thurmond Lake and Augusta.
Local projects on the priority list include $22 million in renovations to New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, a 72-year-old structure near Augusta.
Congress authorized the repairs in 2000, and design work has been completed for a fish-passage structure that will accompany the renovation. But the project was never fully funded.
Mr. Broun said he is pressing for funds for the New Savannah Bluff project and has asked for funding for efforts to modernize water management programs in Thurmond and other upstream reservoirs.
Also present at the meeting was Col. Ed Kertis, the Savannah District commander, who has met several times with residents angry about the economic consequences of low lake levels.
"I talked with both of them about management of the entire Savannah River basin," Mr. Broun said, adding he hopes a better plan can be devised that gives more consideration to human needs, rather than the needs of fish.
Another project discussed was a proposal to dredge portions of the Savannah River to accommodate barges that would be needed to deliver components of two new reactors planned for construction at Plant Vogtle in Burke County.
Southern Nuclear Operating Co. has notified the corps that dredging will be needed in portions of the channel between the port of Savannah and the plant site in Burke County, 116 miles upstream.
Mr. Broun said the corps likely cannot use stimulus money for that project.
Three possible alternatives, he said, would be to have Southern Nuclear finance the project; have Southern Nuclear finance the project and then seek federal reimbursement; or wait for the corps to secure funds through regular budgeting avenues.