Whitewater rafting on Chattahoochee now open to public - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Whitewater rafting on Chattahoochee now open to public

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credit: Robert N. Jones Photography credit: Robert N. Jones Photography
credit: Robert N. Jones Photography credit: Robert N. Jones Photography
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The dams have been breached, the river has been restored, and the rapids have been released on the world's longest urban whitewater course.  The first rafters made their way through the pass on Saturday. 

The fast moving rapids are the results of two years of hard work.

You didn't have to be a rafting expert or have any water experience at all to join the action on the river. 

The opening of whitewater in Columbus represents a culmination of planning and river alteration, including the removal of two dams that kept the river from flowing in its natural state. 

"This is a great time out here.  The Chattahoochee is a great river.  They've done a really good job building these rapids.  It's some of the biggest whitewater in the southeast, definitely, if not on the whole east coast," said Lucas Brown of Whitewater Express.

Today, hundreds of people lined the Riverwalk and camped out on the island outside the Eagle and Phenix Apartments to watch the inaugural fleet challenge the rapids.  Some spectators say they are basing their decision on whether they too will participate, based on what they observe in the first expedition.

"I think it's pretty awesome.  I was a little hesitant about trying it, but now that I've seen everyone out there and how much fun they're having, it's something I might want to try one day," said Dacia Irvin.

"Look at all the people that are here.  We call it guinea pig Saturday, because it is the first day and we're going to find out what's going to happen," said Raymond LaPlante.

Experts said the addition of this new activity to the list of Columbus attractions will generate 700 new jobs and bring $42 million worth of tourism annually.

1.5 million people are expected to raft, kayak, tube, or surf the river between now and next May.

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