A rift is widening on the Savannah River over the proposed Savannah harbor deepening.
South Carolina officials worry, the planned harbor deepening could hold back development of a proposed port in Jasper County.
These officials include South Carolina state lawmakers, who suggest harbor deepening -- with its accompanying dredging -- would spoil the proposed port's site.
If the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers deepens the Savannah River, it'll need a place to put the muck dredged up from the river's bottom.
The Corp proposes putting it where South Carolina and Georgia both say, they want a new, jointly-run port on the shared river.
Dean Moss is the South Carolina based chair of a bi-state Savannah River Commission.
He says, the Corp isn't taking the new port into consideration.
"The impression received from the report effectively is that that site basically is designated for dredged spoil disposal for the next 50 years," Moss says.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers says, yes, the site will be used for dredged material.
But, the spokesman, Billy Birdwell, says that that actually will enhance the proposed port in Jasper County, S.C.
"The dredged material would help raise the elevation of the site," says Birdwell. "That would be needed should a port be built there in the future."
The site is currently about five to ten feet above sea level.
It needs to be about 20 to 25 feet above sea level, according to Jim Balloun, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Project Office.
That's the bi-state organization that's pushing the Jasper port's development while a formal governing body is yet-to-be established.
"It's bogus. It's a myth," Balloun says about the dredged spoils concerns. "We continue to be perplexed as to how responsible people can perpetuate this."
Ballon says, harbor deepening will save the Jasper port about $200 million dollars in raising the site's elevation.
The proposed Savannah harbor deepening is expected to get final approval before the end of 2011.
The proposed port in Jasper County, however, is still in early development stages.
Its proponents have a timeline that would see it open for business in 2025.