• Overbuilt dam causing major damage along South River


    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None - A local river alliance group has filed a complaint with state authorities about damage done to the South River by a DeKalb County water project.

    The South River Watershed Alliance said DeKalb County overbuilt a dam near the Sugar Creek golf course and caused major damage to the river and its banks.

    "For the county to do something like this and for whoever permitted this without following up is unconscionable," Jackie Echols of the river alliance said.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to the county in 2005 to build the project and pull water from the river to irrigate county-owned golf course, but at some point during maintenance, county officials admitted they built the dam too high and blocked too much water.

    "This isn't supposed to happen," Echols said.

    Channel 2's Tony Thomas walked with Echols and Soil and Water Conservation District elected member Doug Denton to see the damage.

    "It literally looks like a bomb has been dropped," Denton told Thomas.

    Denton said someone dropped the ball, and he blames communication errors within DeKalb County government.

    "In my 12 years as an elected official, I have never seen this severe of damage," Denton said.

    The Army Corps of Engineers said the county self-reported the issue in August and is working with the agency to try and fix the problem.

    "We have to continue to make repairs to get it back where it's functioning the way it's supposed to," DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said.

    Along the bank of the South River, water being pushed around the dam made of boulders has eaten away about 100 feet of the bank. Trees have collapsed into the water, and debris is piling up. The River Alliance fears the resulting silt is causing issues downstream.

    Echols worries about who will pay to correctly repair the damage.

    "It will take a lot of money to repair that," Echols said.

    "I am sure it can be fixed, but is there the political willpower to fix it? I don't know," Denton added.

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