Congressman Broun Meets With Major General Temple Of The Army Corps Of Engineers Regarding Savannah River Basin Issues
Earlier this week, U.S. Representative Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10) met with Major General Merdith Temple, the Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations (DCG-CEO) at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Colonel Edward Kertis, District Commander for the Corps Savannah District to discuss the concerns of his constituents on the management of the Savannah River Basin as well as specific projects involving the Army Corps of Engineers. Major General Temple is the highest ranking official at the Army Corps of Engineers. Congressman Broun released the following statement after the meeting:
"Our lakes along the Savannah River Basin not only serve as economic engines for our communities, attracting thousands of visitors each year, they also provide clean drinking water to thousands of residents. Currently, the state of Georgia is facing one of the most severe droughts in our history - the worst since the Civil War. As a result, our rivers and reservoirs are at record lows, and many of our communities face water shortages that could challenge their ability to meet water supply needs in the near and distant future.
"We must look at our entire system through a larger lens to proactively forecast extraordinary circumstances like the drought we currently face and give the Army Corps the flexibility to deal with said circumstances. Furthermore, we must couple economic impact studies with sound environmental science as we make water management and conservation decisions.
"I appreciate Major General Temple and Colonel Kertis taking the time to listen to my top priorities and concerns related to the Savannah River Basin. We must transform the way the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and other relevant resource agencies manage the Savannah River Basin. Projects should be coordinated and reviewed as a broader watershed, taking into account events occurring in all regions.
"Secondly, ACOE and NOAA should immediately reduce outflow release levels from 3600cfs to 3100cfs for Lake Hartwell and Lake Thurmond. There is no conclusive evidence that the short-nosed sturgeon would be adversely affected by a decreased release level. I believe people are much more important than fish.
"Thirdly, I believe we need to repair and renovate the Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam. The 72 year old dam needs $22 million in renovations before it can be turned over to local officials to manage the water supply structure. Congress authorized the repair project in 2000 and the recently passed stimulus package should be a potential source of funding for these repairs.
"Fourthly, the Lake Russell management plan's update must reflect our current drought situation.
"Finally, the current short-term lease under discussion for Wildwood Park on Lake Thurmond needs to be extended to a 99 year lease. This project has the potential for providing much needed economic development. Similar longer term leases have been negotiated in other parts of the basin.
"In regards to the stimulus funds, $12 billion is needed nationwide for Army Corps projects, but only $4 billion is likely to be allocated. I am shouting loudly and clearly to ensure these much needed funds make their way to our community," said Congressman Paul Broun.
The OMB should make the Army Corps priorities available next week.