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Friday, January 31, 2014 - 6:25am

Coastal Agenda Includes More Than Habor Deepening

State government is scheduled to re-open after a two-day closure.

The weather temporarily stalled state lawmakers working on legislation important to the coastal area.

Local officials have one-thing going for them at the state Capitol.

Savannah harbor deepening enjoys broad political support.

It's the area's top priority.

And it's a top priority statewide, too.

But after that, legislative requests get crowded into a cacophony of bills demanding attention from all over state.

Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Hubbard runs down his priorities after harbor deepening.

"Other major issues are, from a workforce education point of view, our educational institutions here," Hubbard says. "[They're] looking for some items that need to be supported by the elected officials."

Savannah Technical College and Savannah State University have requested large building projects.

City officials will be interested in stopping a proposal to take part of Hutchinson Island out of the city limits.

Savannah State Representative Ron Stephens says he'll be pushing that legislation regardless of opposition from city officials.

"It still needs to be in the county until I see the city move forward with putting a fire station there to protect the county-wide investment that we've already got," Stephens says. "And we've also got a large state investment in that island over there. There's a huge investment all the way around. And right now, the only people that's represented are the city."

Stephens says the bill is aimed at spurring development.

Brunswick State Senator William Ligon wants to extend a moratorium on aquifer storage and recovery.

That's the practice of pumping treated water into the underground source that supplies water to the coast.

April Ingle of Georgia Rivers Network says it could cause contamination.

"In places where it's been tried, it's led to increased levels of arsenic that exceed drinking water quality standards," Ingle says. "So it really puts our aquifers at risk."

A proposal to allow Sunday alcohol sales on St. Patrick's Day weekend and a push to make Chatham Area Transit county-wide are among other issues locals are taking to Atlanta.