Mon., May 28, 2012 12:00pm (EDT)

Harbor Deepening Includes Reservoir
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
The Savannah Harbor Expansion project would push salt water higher up the Savannah River.  That might have consequences for the City of Savannah's water supply if nothing's done.  But city officials say, they're pleased with a plan to handle the potential harm.  (photo US Air Force)
The Savannah Harbor Expansion project would push salt water higher up the Savannah River. That might have consequences for the City of Savannah's water supply if nothing's done. But city officials say, they're pleased with a plan to handle the potential harm. (photo US Air Force)
A new reservoir is part of a plan to deepen the Savannah Harbor and local officials are pleased with the idea.

The city gets much of its drinking water from the Savannah River.

If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deepens the Savannah harbor this year or next, as state officials want, saltwater would flow higher up the river.

That would increase chlorides in a creek supplying area residents with fresh water.

If nothing were done to address the issue, pipes could corrode and make water unsafe to drink.

But city water chief John Sawyer says, a plan to build a 75 million gallon reservoir would allow the city to dilute the water to acceptable levels.

"It becomes really kind of a part of our process as opposed to just a pool of fresh water as a source," Sawyer says. "The City of Savannah is certainly a proponent of the harbor deepening and always has been. We just wanted to make sure that as the harbor is deepened that we also did it in such a manner as protected our water source. And I believe we have accomplished both goals."

Sawyer says, the reservoir would be large enough to cope with historic droughts.

Its $30 million cost is part of a $600 million federal proposal to deepen the harbor to serve larger ships.

The plan is out for public comment until June fifth.