Critical Issues Affecting the Ocmulgee Old Fields


Ocmulgee River Flood Patterns
Prior to Levees 1940-1970
Next map will show addition of i-16 4th Map will show 1994 flood upstream homes and businesses

5th map can show effect of 1-new intersection, 2-new businesses behind levee, 3-levee raised 4 feet -> effects

Letter to the Macon Telegraph - posted 3-17-02

Ten years ago the Ocmulgee River flooded some portions of Macon's water treatment plant. Visitors to our 1992 Cherry Blossom Festival were told that Macon's water was not safe to drink.

I learned from that 1992 flood. I learned that clean water is precious. And I learned that Macon is susceptible to expensive flooding due to poorly designed developments, roads, bridges and levees based on inadequate modeling of the Ocmulgee River during floodstages. I began to actively educate people about any projects that would make Macon even more prone to flooding. Such projects at the time included 1-raising the Macon Levee and 2- extending Eisenhower Parkway into the swampland which drains Macon.

People pushing for those two projects have told me this: "Raise the levee and it will never break in our lifetime. Use the land behind the levee for prime development next to downtown. Use Eisenhower Extension to gain access to this land. Build a new intersection with i16 in the floodplane right beside the river. Let our children figure out how to deal with flooding should it ever occur". I call these ideas the "Levee Scam." I wrote letters to expose this incredibly foolish scheme.

Two years later, in July 1994, the water plant was completely flooded and disabled for 3 weeks. The Macon Levee failed. Businesses and homes along Riverside Drive and elsewhere were lost. Supporters of the Eisenhower Parkway Extension and Levee Scam retreated for awhile and plotted new strategies. Lately these people have been actively seeking public money again to fund their risky business. Low water and the current drought has fueled their delusion of taming the Ocmulgee River.

Anyone who still supports building an extension of Eisenhower Parkway into and through the Ocmulgee Floodway just south of downtown Macon is either ignorant of hydrodynamics and history or they are selfish and careless gamblers hoping to cash in on short term profits before the next big flood forewarns their folly again.

Governor Barnes and other leaders who continue to pay lip service to this scheme are not worthy of re-election. Macon needs to move ahead with better plans for a better future.

Lindsay D. Holliday

1997 letter to the Macon Telegraph:


Your actions are inconsistent. As I write,I am looking at two contradictory messages you have published. On my right side is a 5-15-97 full page add "The People of Grand Forks Need Our Help".  You donated this add to Red Cross/ United Way requesting money to help the victims of flooding in Grand Forks, North Dakota.   On my left is your 5-22-97 editorial "Need consensus to speed up Fall Line Freeway," which endorses the construction of an Eisenhower Parkway Extension through the Ocmulgee swamp. Are not you aware this road includes a 100 acres interchange at I-16 built up on a dike in the floodway?  This route which you continue to promote would increase the likelihood, the frequency and the severity of flooding the citizens of Macon.

Have we all forgotten the floods of 92 and 94?  In 94 I worked harder than I ever have during several weeks without safe tap water. And still I lost thousands of dollars due to lost productivity at my dental practice. All of my misery and the suffering of others who lost their water was due to one solitary preventable act: Human construction in the Ocmulgee's foodplain.   Can't we all learn from past mistakes?

The engineers who designed the Old Water Works, I-16 and the Macon Levee failed miserably to predict the demands of the Ocmulgee River.  Some Bibb county leaders are acting to repeat and to compound these past mistakes.  They think that 4 more feet of dirt on our  levee will control the Ocmulgee River.  [This reminds me of the charactors in Jurrasic Park who thought they could control the Dinosaurs.  The difference here is that the Ocmulgee is real.  Our river has already killed more people and  destroyed more property than both fictional movies combined.]

The river's requirements will continue to increase as humans continue to strip the uplands of forests which slow and absorb rainwater runoff.

It is possible to build amphibious utilities along and across the river which actually facilitate water flow (by concurrently widening the channel). The route you endorsed does not meet these requirements. However, the two routes described in a 12-28-96 letter do respect these natural laws and they will not worsen flooding. Additionally, these two routes: (1) business and (2) bypass are much cheaper and quicker to build. Interested readers may find that letter and a comprehensive rebuttal of the EPE [Alternative route A1] route at:

Internet access is available at the Washington Memorial Library.

River boundaries ebb and flow. Water will finds its own way. Poorly designed bridges, levees and roads can create rigid constrictions around (occasionally powerful) waterways which forgive not our human frailties.

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Webpage by -  Lindsay Holliday