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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 12:30pm

Savannah Explores Drinking Water Options

US Army Corp of Engineers officials are proposing to treat Savannah drinking water with chemicals to offset the potential effects of harbor deepening.

City officials believe the solution could be better than the alternative.

Deepening the Savannah harbor could make the creek where Savannah gets much of its drinking water saltier.

The saltier water could corrode pipes.

Officials now are proposing a lime treatment for the corrosive.

But the City of Savannah's Environmental Affairs Chief, Bob Scanlon, says increasing the water's acid, or PH, level with lime could have its own effects.

"As you go higher in PH, the corrosivity of the water goes down, but it also makes the water more reactive," Scanlon says. "So, there's a greater possibility that you're going to form these other potentially hazardous materials."

Still, Scanlon says, without treatment, the city would be stuck with a $40 million bill to move its water intake.

"The alternative is to move our intake line further upstream," Scanlon says. "That's kind of the fallback position. It's a very expensive position. This is basically, 'Can we avoid that cost by chemically treating the water?'"

Officials are still hashing out the proposal.

Once finished, it could be part of a final report on the harbor deepening's environmental effects and proposed fixes, expected in October.