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Hosting the World: RushSouth Whitewater Park, Columbus, GA


This year’s 2022 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Freestyle World Cup and World Cup Final will be held on the Chattahoochee River from October 1st through the 9th. McLaughlin Whitewater, a division of Merrick & Company, facilitated the river restoration and designed the whitewater features of RushSouth Whitewater Park, where the competition will be held. The park is the site of the longest urban-setting whitewater rapids in the world.

The park has previously hosted world-class whitewater events and attracts more than 50,000 annual visitors to the region. The 2022 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup events are expected to attract more than 300 competitors from over 30 countries. The event will be an affair for the whole community and will include free concerts; community events like music, food, and children’s activities; and award ceremonies.

Our work at the park involved removing two defunct dams, restoring more than two miles of the Chattahoochee River, and creating whitewater recreation for adventurers of all skill levels to enjoy. Using our patented WaveshaperTM technology and dam-controlled flows, we created two varied types of whitewater rafting and kayaking experiences. Low-flow waves offer just the right amount of adventure for the whole family. But in the afternoons, the high-flow kicks in, sending up to 13,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of adrenaline-pumping whitewater towards challenging Class III to V rapids for the more experienced water sport enthusiasts.

Not only has this project created a gathering spot for the local community, but it has also been an engine for economic change and prosperity for the region. The restoration of the river and the introduction of whitewater features was a catalyst for developing the surrounding natural area into a park for all ages, experience levels, and interests, featuring guided fly fishing; the only dual ziplines that connect two states; a 10-obstacle, multi-level aerial adventure course; 18-hole PDGA disc golf course; and 20 miles of scenic riverwalk.

Photo Credit: Rob Giersh

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