When a public comment period closes June 5th on final plans to deepen Savannah's harbor, expect encouraging words from city officials. The city's water department previously raised concerns over the proposal's potential impact on the city's drinking water supply. But the US Army Corps of Engineers' final plan calls for building a 75 million gallon reservoir.
Endangered fish could swim farther up the Savannah River once the Savannah harbor deepening project gets started. US Army Corps of Engineers officials are proposing a $32 million "fishway" around an Augusta dam as part of the massive port expansion proposal. But aren't convinced the endangered shortnosed sturgeon would benefit from it.
About 350,000 Georgia workers owe their jobs in some way to the Georgia ports. A report released by the University of Georgia says, 1-in-12 Georgia jobs is port-dependent. Critics say, the figures are inflated, counting every Wal-Mart greeter and store clerk as port-dependent since they work at a company that uses the ports.
Charleston's mayor says, he believes environmentalists when it comes to Savannah's harbor deepening. South Carolina officials recently have taken up an ecological argument against it. Georgians suspect the opposition really is about protecting of Charleston from competition. But, Mayor Joseph Riley says, the concerns are honest.
Governor Nathan Deal visited three cities Tuesday in a statewide tour to sign local bills and talk about the budget. At Augusta's Georgia Health Sciences University, Deal highlighted funding for 400 new residency slots at hospitals statewide. At the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah, he focused on $47 million in the state budget for Savannah harbor expansion.
A massive US Army Corps of Engineers report on the $650 million proposed Savannah port expansion goes out for public comment Friday. The report details every aspect of the project, including a $14 million plan to conserve a Confederate battleship in the way of the dredging. The ironclad sank in the harbor in 1864.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants a federal judge to toss a lawsuit that says a $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel needs a South Carolina pollution permit. The Georgia ports want the channel deepened to handle larger ships that will call when the Panama Canal is deepened. Conservation groups on both sides of the river have sued.
Georgia's business and political leaders eagerly awaited this week's final report on Savannah harbor deepening. But while it's the US Army Corps of Engineers' last word on the project, it's not the last word in the public debate over whether the deepening should happen. The agency next week will open a comment period.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to hear a dispute over a state water quality permit for the dredging of the Savannah River shipping channel. The court on Monday said it would take original jurisdiction in the case, meaning the issue does not have to be heard first by lower courts.