Savannah Harbor Deepening (GA/SC)
Costly River Deepening Unrelated to Port Business
Groups Reach Settlement on Savannah Harbor Expansion Project
Conservation groups today announced a settlement reached in the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project litigation that establishes significant new conservation efforts to help the Savannah River. Read more in the press release.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to deepen Savannah River by up to six feet would dig a $600 million hole in taxpayers’ pocketbooks and take a huge toll on wildlife, wetlands, and water quality. But for what purpose?
The Corps claims the project has nothing to do with maintaining or attracting business for the Georgia Ports Authority. If that’s the case, deepening the Savannah River would waste taxpayer money and needlessly jeopardize fragile marshlands, habitat for endangered species, and drinking water supplies. Shipping experts also question whether larger ships could even safely use the channel as planned.
Damage to Savannah River Health
Among its impacts, saltwater intrusion caused by the 38-mile-long project would endanger aquifers that supply water for communities in Georgia and South Carolina, and would destroy one-tenth of the remaining freshwater marsh in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. The deeper channel—capable of swallowing a four-story building—would also reduce oxygen levels and harm habitat vital to at-risk species and commercially important fish populations in the Savannah River and its estuary.
Avoid Waste, Needless Damage
Despite the Corps’ conclusion to the contrary, the Georgia Ports Authority asserts that deepening the Savannah River is part of a race to the bottom among East Coast ports to attract larger container ship traffic after the Panama Canal expansion. SELC and its partners urged the agency to take a big-picture view of Atlantic ports to determine where its investments would yield the most economic benefit while avoiding unnecessary destruction of natural resources. The Corps’ rationale for the Savannah Harbor project fails to do so.
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