Experts from the USACE Savannah District continue to move forward with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, aka SHEP.
The Corps has finished one year of required pre-construction environmental monitoring and will continue monitoring throughout the harbor deepening and for 10 years afterward.
A report by lead author Nathan Dayan of the district’s Planning Division, described the actions already taken to establish a baseline of scientific data on the conditions of the Savannah River before dredging begins on the inner harbor.
This report will be posted at the SHEP monitoring website by mid-October.
“The primary goal of the pre-construction monitoring was to establish the baseline data for the Savannah River estuary to assist the Corps of Engineers with confirming the predicted project impacts during the construction monitoring and post-construction monitoring phases of the project,” as stated in the opening of the report.
“Our report describes how we gathered the data on current river conditions – dissolved oxygen content, water quality in the estuary, vegetation in the marsh, chloride levels near the City of Savannah’s water intake and in ground water, as well as the distribution of shortnose sturgeon,” Dayan said.
“We examined many other aspects of the river, too, and will use all this data to compare to conditions as we deepen and after we deepen.”
For example, the report describes how much dissolved oxygen the lower Savannah River currently contains. Before deepening the inner harbor, the Corps must install two sets of dissolved oxygen injection systems, which use equipment called Speece cones, to ensure the dissolved oxygen content remains the same.
“The detailed information on the current conditions of the river will allow us to better identify whether the impacts we predicted from construction are correct, and whether the mitigation features perform as expected,” Dayan said. “This report lays out for the natural resource agencies our pre-construction actions, and what we will monitor during construction.”