DHEC ratifies Savannah port deal

November 14, 2011

DHEC ratifies Savannah port deal

- jholleman@thestate.com

Less than two months after denying a water-quality permit to dredge and deepen the Savannah port, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control board Thursday agreed to a deal finalized with Georgia officials just hours earlier.

The water-quality permit from a neighboring state with a competing port project just upstream was seen as a huge hurdle for the Savannah project. The DHEC staff denied the permit in late September, concerned about the impact of dredging on the environmental health of the river. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appealed that decision to the DHEC board.

The morning that appeal was to be heard, DHEC staffers met with Corps of Engineers officials and leaders of the Savannah Ports Authority. They came up with an agreement to install devices called Speece cones, which pump oxygen into water to improve the environment for aquatic creatures. The deal also calls for either the Corps or Georgia to pay for the installation, operation and maintenance of the devices for up to 50 years, at an estimated price tag of $1.2 million per year. Read the full article here.