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Corps awards next major ports contract

Subheadline: 
Work on raw water storage reservoir to begin next summer

The Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded another major environmental mitigation contract for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, this one for a raw water storage impoundment — or reservoir — for the city of Savannah.

Thalle Construction Co. of Hillsborough, N.C., is expected to begin work next summer on the 17-acre, $40.2 million impoundment along Abercorn Creek in Effingham County.

The reservoir is designed to provide an additional source of fresh water when the Savannah River is stressed by a combination of drought conditions, extremely high tides and hot weather.

During those rare occurrences, the city will be able to draw water from the impoundment to ensure water quality remains unchanged, according to corps spokesman Billy Birdwell.

During normal operations, water will be drawn from Abercorn Creek and will bypass the impoundment, which will be kept full. During low-flow drought conditions and high tides, pumping from Abercorn Creek will stop and water will be drawn from the impoundment until tides recede.

Building the impoundment is one of many environmental mitigation pieces in the corps’ $706 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Deepening the shipping channel from 42 to 47 feet will enable newer and larger container ships to call on Garden City Terminal with greater ease, heavier cargoes and fewer tidal restraints than they currently experience.

The Corps of Engineers estimates the deepening, when complete, will provide greater shipping efficiencies that will result in approximately $175 million per year in transportation cost savings to U.S. consumers.

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