The Choctawhatchee River was improved from Choctawhatchee Bay to Geneva and Newton between 1872 and 1906 for steamboat traffic and rafting of logs. The Army Corps of Engineers created a 3-foot deep 60-foot wide channel by the removal of hard blue clay obstruction, snags, overhanging trees and rock excavation for approximately 140 river miles. Waterborne commerce on this stretch of river ceased after 1935 and the project has since been abandoned.
Holmes Creek (a tributary in Washington County Florida) was similarly altered for river commerce in the late 1800’s, and there has been no maintenance on this project in many years.
Following the Flood of 1929, the city of Elba was protected by a 3.2 mile long earthen levee constructed by the Works Project Aministrations (WPA).
Geneva, which sits on a peninsula between the Pea River and Double Bridges Creek, received a similar levee 2.7 miles long during the mid- 1930’s.
About 5 river miles below Elba a hydropower dam was constructed in the early 1900’s, built by the Alabama Water Service Company. It sits at river mile 56.8 and is approximately 31 feet tall with a capacity of 1.4 kilowatts from its three turbines. The dam has not generated power since 1966 and is now privately owned. (more info available)(Corps)
The dam, commonly called the Elba-Pea River Dam is the only significant dam in the system and is located 2.25 miles south of the Elba city limits. The stream gradient upstream of the dam is approximately 3.0 feet per mile. Downstream of the dam there is significant hydraulic head influence associated with increased flow velocity, eroding the channel to a depth of 30 feet where 5-15 is the norm. Elevation of floodwaters at Elba and their relation to this dam are being further evaluated. (GSA)