Corps completes deepening of Savannah harbor’s entrance channel

The Padre Island, a hopper dredge, shown filling its hopper with dredged material.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – In case you missed it, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, marked the end of deepening of the outer Savannah harbor last week. Only final touches remain in this $134 million project to deepen the entrance channel of the harbor and extend it an additional 7 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

“The completion of entrance channel dredging is perhaps the most significant milestone to date for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project,” Col. Marvin Griffin, Commander of the Savannah District, said.

“As of today, approximately half of the Savannah harbor’s 40-mile channel is deepened and better equipped to handle post-Panamax vessels. The SHEP has broad national impacts, and with this achievement, we are now halfway to realizing more than $280 million in net annual benefits for the nation.”

“Reaching the midpoint of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is an exciting and critical milestone for not only the project, but for the entire state and nation,” said Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia’s First Congressional District.

“With a return on investment of 7.3 to 1, every step closer to completion is a step closer to realizing the full economic impact this project will have on the nation and the world. I am proud to represent the fastest growing port in the country in the United States Congress, and I will continue to fight to ensure the federal government meets its obligation to this top infrastructure project.”

The outer harbor deepening began in September 2015 and will end early in March ahead of schedule and under budget. Completing the outer harbor deepening joins other milestones in the quest to deepen the second busiest container port on the East Coast.

Removal of the Civil War ironclad CSS Georgia and the removal of the obsolete tide gate on the Savannah River’s back river were the first construction features completed for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP.

Completion of this contract demonstrates the SHEP is well on its way toward completion. The deepened harbor will allow larger, neo-Panamax vessels to call on the port with fewer tidal restrictions. The outer harbor now extends from approximately Fort Pulaski to about 20 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The dredges removed approximately 12 million cubic yards of material during this phase of the deepening.

Deepening the Savannah harbor will also allow neo-Panamax ships to call on the port with heavier cargo loads. This will lower fuel and transportation costs netting the nation hundreds of millions of dollars per year in savings to the economy. The benefits of the completed SHEP will be $7.30 for each $1 invested in the deepening.

Later this year, the Corps of Engineers expects to complete construction on two environmental mitigation features of the SHEP. The dissolved oxygen injection system will be completed and testing will begin. In addition a raw water storage impoundment, or small reservoir, for the City of Savannah will be brought online.

Completion of the entrance channel is possible because of great partnerships with Georgia Ports Authority, Georgia Department of Transportation, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, resource agencies, and Congress.

We would not have been able to execute an efficient start of construction on SHEP without the State of Georgia’s commitment and funding. Completion of the outer harbor contract demonstrates the SHEP is well on its way to completion.

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The good, the bad, and the possible

The graph shows Lake Hartwell’s projected levels through April. The basin recently entered Drought Level I after rainfall pushed lake levels two feet above Drought Level 2.

Lake lovers got their Valentine’s Day gift last week from Mother Nature as Lake Hartwell pushed past its February rainfall average and the Savannah River Basin finally entered Drought Level 1. Continue reading

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The fate of Augusta’s lock and dam (and some history)

The New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam, looking downriver.

(Editor’s Note: This post, written by Savannah District Commander Col. Marvin Griffin, was published in the Augusta Chronicle Feb. 10.)

The fate of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam has become a topic widely discussed in the past year. The issues surrounding the lock and dam are complex and deeply rooted in the past. Continue reading

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Cones are a Corps cash cow

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District harvested 7,500 bushels of pine cones at Fort Stewart in fiscal year 2017, generating about $80,000 in revenue. USACE photo by Rashida Banks.

There’s a saying that money doesn’t grow on trees, but foresters at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Forestry Resources Office at Fort Stewart, Georgia, may beg to differ. They generate thousands of dollars every year from something that grows on trees – pine cones. Continue reading

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SHEP roars into 2018

As cold weather gripped the nation and temporarily stalled work in cities across the South in the new year, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project continued to check items off its to-do list. Continue reading

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Tide gate removal pushes SHEP closer to completion

The tide gate structure in 2016 (above) and in December 2017 following its removal.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The removal of a 1970s-era structure from the Savannah River’s Back River marks another major milestone in the deepening of the nation’s fourth busiest container port. It also returns the Back River to its natural width to enhance the area for fish habitat. Continue reading

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Year-end rainfall wrap-up

Annual rainfall for the Hartwell sub-basin in 2017. Six months out of the year experienced above average rainfall but the cumulative amount was still 2.2 inches below the annual average.

As 2017 came to a close, the Savannah River Basin seemed much like folks looking back at the year that was: It definitely has been worse, but still could have been better. Continue reading

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Basin takes a break from drought recovery

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The momentum the Savannah River Basin had been building in 2017 came to an abrupt halt last month when the sub-basins registered abysmal levels of rainfall. Continue reading

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Last phase of outer harbor deepening begins

Contractors recently resumed operations in the outer channel. Up to five dredges will work in 24-hour shifts to complete this section of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).

SAVANNAH, Ga. – A massive dredging effort began Dec. 1 to push through the final phase of the outer channel deepening for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, commonly called SHEP. Continue reading

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Corps app is down but not out

Users may have gotten this error message recently while trying to access Savannah Corps’ lake level app. We’re working to update it.

For those who’ve upgraded their iPhones to iOS11, you’ve probably noticed our app has been inaccessible for a while. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Once we learned our app required recoding to work on iOS11, we figured a standard update (a day’s work) would get the job done.

It turns out Apple’s new operating system was quite an overhaul (if your I’s have been auto correcting to A?s, you know exactly what we’re talking about), and we also ran into some complications with our Apple license and certificates.

We do believe we’ve nailed down all the issues, and we’ve resubmitted (for the third time) the final update to Apple. Apple customer service said it could be another seven days before the update is available.

So we’re not there yet, but we’re closer to the goal. We thank you for your patience as we work through this issue.

~ Russell Wicke, Corporate Communications Office

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