Joey Robinson battled the rapids on the Chatahoochee River on Friday morning. He said when he watched the breaching of the dam; this is never what he expected.
"I was picturing something a lot closer to what the rapid has been in the past. Never did a ten foot tall standing haystack cross my mind at the bottom of this rapid. It really is awe inspiring. It is really much more than we anticipated."
Robinson is with The Outdoor World Outfitters on Broadway in Columbus. Their business is excited for the course. "It's a pretty stout rapid. It is on the level of the Gauley or any of the big water rivers in the Southeast. It is very aggressive and very stout down there."
One of the major differences between this whitewater course and others in the state of Georgia is it is proximity to the city. Rafters will be able ride the rough waters and then easily walk to Uptown Columbus for food and entertainment.
The tourism director in Georgia, Kevin Lanston, didn't brave the rapids, but he did visit the water and says people underestimate the tourism industry in Georgia. "Tourist spent $418 million here in Columbus last year. And actually 7,500 people in the area owe their livelihood to the tourism industry."
Before jobs are created and rafters can get out and enjoy the white water, "There is an awful lot of debris to get out of the river. Some historical and some just trash," explained John Turner. It will be a partial volunteer effort and partial recovery effort to get the debris cleaned up.
Creating two paths for boats, a viewing terrace for those who don't want to get wet, and a raft put-in are all in the lineup for construction.
"If it turns out to be what they expect, the white water feature will be the kind of place major kayaking competitions are hosted on. It is one of the greatest whitewater features in the United States that we already have," said Turner.
The next phase of the whitewater course will come at the end of summer with the breaching of the Columbus side of the dam.