Charleston, SC- On Tuesday, December 13th, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Charleston District will be hosting a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public scoping meeting for the Charleston Harbor Post 45 deepening feasibility study. The meeting will serve as a forum for the public to learn more about the project and provide comments on any concerns they may have about the engineering, economic or environmental aspects of the project that need to be taken into consideration during the study.
The meeting will be held in Mark Clark Hall at The Citadel from 5:30-8:00 pm.
Public participation is an important part of the feasibility study process and the Charleston District values this input. Throughout this workshop, the public will be able to interact with team members and discuss issues related to the different aspects of this study. The public will also be able to provide comments on concerns they may have. This can be done through written or electronic comments. Verbal comments will also be received through a court reporter. This is in support of the District’s preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the study.
In order to keep pace with the future of maritime commerce worldwide, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) has requested the harbor be deepened to accommodate larger vessels that are becoming more common and will be heavily used upon completion of the new Panama Canal in 2014. To this point, some of the larger container ships have begun to call on Charleston Harbor, but can only come at high-tide or not fully loaded, causing inefficiencies in transportation.
The Charleston District will be reviewing several alternatives in the feasibility study and will focus on three main areas for each alternative: engineering, economics and the environment.
The engineering feasibility takes into account if the project can be built, what must be done to make it safe and what the cost will be.
The economic studies will answer questions such as “Do the benefits versus the costs make this project worthwhile?” “How does the nation benefit from this project?” and “How much benefit will the nation receive?”
Environmental issues to address in the DEIS will include, but are not limited to; air, surface/ground water and sediment quality, fish habitats and endangered species, shoreline changes, and cultural and historical resources.
A feasibility study determines the most economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable alternative proposed, but does not guarantee the harbor will be deepened. In the feasibility phase, the cost-share agreement is split 50-50 with the sponsor, the SCSPA, but the study will be conducted by the Charleston District.
A typical USACE feasibility study takes between 5-8 years to complete, but for this study, the Charleston District is striving for less time with innovative and aggressive measures. This will include using best practices where applicable, streamlining the review and approval process, and using subject matter experts from around USACE on the Charleston team. The feasibility study will identify the National Economic Development (NED) plan that maximizes the net benefits to the nation related to deepening the federal channel.
The study will cost approximately $18-20 million and will analyze various alternative depths, beyond the currently federally authorized 45 ft depth.
The Corps has maintained Charleston Harbor for more than 130 years and has dredged it every year during that time to ensure the channel is at the required federal project depth. Each year, approximately 2-3 million cubic yards of maintenance material are removed. The Charleston District spends $10-15 million each year maintaining the depth.
For more information or questions, please contact the Charleston District’s Corporate Communications Office at 843-329-8123.