USA: Officials Seek Public Input on Savannah Harbor Expansion During Workshop Dec. 15

Experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will conduct a public workshop Dec. 15, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Savannah Civic Center to discuss the recently announced proposal to deepen the Savannah Harbor from its current depth down to a maximum depth of 48 feet.

The details on the project are contained in the draft General Re-Evaluation Report and draft Environmental Impact Statement, released by the Corps on Nov. 15. . The increased depth will benefit the national economy, and the project impacts have been mitigated to an acceptable level, according to the report. The workshop will give the public an opportunity to talk with engineers, economists, project managers and others on the harbor deepening, ask questions, and submit comments. Participants may come-and-go anytime during the workshop.

“Throughout the years of study, we have used an open, transparent process to provide information to the public,” said Col. Jeff Hall, commander of the Savannah District. “This workshop is another opportunity for the public to learn more about this extremely important project. We will describe our extensive analysis of the engineering alternatives, environmental impacts, and economic costs and benefits of deepening the Savannah Harbor and shipping channel.”

This forum will allow the public to voice their concerns informally through discussion or more formally by submitting written or oral comments on the proposed Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).

Aquifer concerns—one topic for discussion

Potential impacts to the Floridan aquifer, one of many environmental aspects of the report, will be addressed at the workshop. Savannah, Ga., and Hilton Head, S.C., draw much of their water from the Floridan aquifer.

“We have carefully studied the potential impacts to the aquifer for several years,” said Bill Bailey, Chief of the Savannah District’s Planning Division. “Our extensive study shows that deepening the harbor to as deep as 48 feet will have an insignificant impact on the aquifer.” The Corps conducted the aquifer studies in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Our analysis clearly shows that the greatest impact to the Floridan aquifer is the high withdrawal and use rate,” Bailey said. “Deepening will not significantly increase the rate of saltwater intrusion below the Savannah area and will not pose any measurable change to the water quality in the aquifer.”

Workshop details

The workshop will be held on the second floor of the Savannah Civic Center, at the corner of Liberty and Montgomery Streets.

Hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and participants may attend anytime between those hours. Parking is free for workshop participants. Participants must identify themselves as workshop attendees to receive free parking.

Up-to-date information on the report and workshop can be found on-line at www.sas.usace.army.mil

The Corps will provide stations for the public to submit written comments and record oral statements. Written and oral comments become part of the official record for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Source: usace, November 25, 2010;

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