Augusta Canal to be partly drained July-September
(June 28, 2016)AUGUSTA GA: The lower portion of the Augusta Canal will be drained for approximately three months beginning in early July to allow for scheduled maintenance and bridge repairs, according to officials with the City of Augusta Engineering Department and the Augusta Canal Authority. The bulkhead gates across the canal near Lake Olmstead will be closed, allowing water to drain out through tailraces at Sibley, King and Enterprise Mills and through other drainage structures including gates at 13th Street.
The draining process will begin July 5 and take several days.Work on the Butt Memorial Bridge at 15th Street and the Broad Street Bridge near King Mill will begin July 18 once water levels are sufficiently lowered. Contractors for the City of Augusta will replace the underside decking and perform other restoration on both bridges.
According to Dayton Sherrouse, Augusta Canal Authority Executive Director, the lack of water will have significant financial impact the Canal Authority’s operations, including its popular Petersburg boat tours and the hydroelectric power stations it operates at the Sibley, King and Enterprise Mills. “It is regrettable that the city must drain the water during the summer’s peak power demand and outdoor recreation period,” Sherrouse said, “but these bridge maintenance projects are essential. We are doing our best to minimize the impact on the public.”
Because water will remain in the upper five miles of the canal above the Olmstead Bulkhead, the Petersburg tour boats will travel up the canal and dock at the Savannah Rapids Park for the summer. During the drawdown period guided tours of the upper canal area will be offered several times daily Tuesday through Sunday beginning July 6.
Sherrouse also cautioned the public to stay out of the canal bed during the drawdown to avoid being trapped by the thick mud.
Wildlife, including aquatic plants and fish, will be studied during and after the drawdown, Sherrouse said. “We have staff and a summer intern coordinating plans for this at the present time.”
From Powder Works to Cyber Works:
Augusta Canal Authority leases historic mill to data center developer
(May 4,2016)AUGUSTA GA: At a press conference today, the Augusta Canal Authority announced a 75-year ground lease of its Sibley Mill property to Cape Augusta Digital Properties, LLC. Cape Augusta will be the master developer of a state-of-the- art cyber campus, which stands to both galvanize Augusta’s growing status as one of the world’s cyber technology hubs and transform one of the most beautiful and historically significant properties in the region. The long-term lease was approved at a called meeting of the Authority on April 25. The development, known as The Augusta Cyber Works, is envisioned as a cyber-technology park, anchored by a 10 Megawatt Tier 3 Data Center and complemented with a campus that supports a wide range of cyber-related employers and educational facilities.
[Download full news release pdf]
Sibley Mill gets $200K EPA Brownfields grant (May 8, 2013)
The Augusta Canal Authority has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help fund Sibley Mill environmental cleanup. The federal agency announced recipients of its FY 13 Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup grant competition in a news release from its headquarters in Washington, DC today.
The Canal Authority, which purchased the 518,000-square-foot Sibley Mill in 2010, had made two previous unsuccessful applications for a share of the limited federal cleanup funds. “The third time’s the charm,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the authority’s executive director. “It is a very competitive program with a lot of applicants.” The Authority’s was one of only two cleanup funding applications approved in Georgia.
The Canal Authority commissioned American Environmental Construction Services to prepare an environmental assessment and corrective action plan for Sibley shortly after acquiring the property three years ago. The plan identified several contaminants, including heavy metals and semi-volatile organic compounds that need to be addressed prior to any possible redevelopment. Total estimated cost for remediation is approximately $2.1 million."Whether the property eventually becomes the Mills Campus, or is put to some other use, it will require environmental remediation,” said Sherrouse.
This phase of cleanup will involve removal of contaminated soil. The Canal Authority will negotiate a cooperative agreement with the EPA and begin work once authorization to proceed is received. The grant requires a 20 percent match in local funds, meaning a $40,000 local allocation will be leveraged into a $240,000 in project.
As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a brownfield is a property that has a presence, or potential presence, of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants, thus creating complications during its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse. EPA's Brownfields Program is designed to provide benefits to the environment and economy of local communities through revitalization of these sites.
Sibley Mill, which opened in 1882, operated continuously as a textile mill for 124 years before closing in July 2006. It occupies land that was used for the Civil War-era Confederate Powder Works that manufactured most of the gunpowder used by Southern armed forces.
EPA Newsroom General News Release on FY13 awards
EPA announces selected recipients to receive $62.5 million to clean up contaminated sites, protect health and the environment, and revitalize communities nationwide.