The Charleston District manages many projects in the public eye that have crucial impacts on our nation. One of the District’s most prominent current projects is the Charleston Harbor Post 45 harbor deepening feasibility study.
Post 45 has been a main focus for the District’s civil works program for the past year and a half and will continue to be so until its completion. This study is, and has been, at the forefront of the Corps of Engineers’ efforts to transform its civil works planning process, and recent guidance from Corps headquarters and inclusion in President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative for critical national infrastructure projects have resulted in time and cost savings. The dedicated team of Corps personnel from Charleston and around the nation, together with our non-federal sponsor, the South Carolina State Ports Authority, is committed to delivering a quality study for less than $13 million by September 2015.
The Post 45 team is also cooperating with technical experts from outside the Corps to assist with crucial aspects of the study. This summer, the District’s partners at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected water current velocities and water quality data. This information is being used by Tetra Tech, Inc. to validate the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (EFDC) model, which is being used to simulate several key parameters within the harbor under existing, future-without-project, and future-with-project conditions. Comparisons will provide the Post 45 team with a greater understanding of the potential environmental impacts resulting from increasing the channel depth and/or width. Our partners at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Research Institute (DNR) also began work by collecting seasonal data on benthic (bottom-surface-dwelling) organisms in early September. Since the presence and concentrations of these organisms can vary throughout the year, the DNR team will sample three more times by the end of spring 2013.
Knowledge and resources of other private companies also aid the Post 45 team. One of these companies, ANAMAR Environmental Consulting, Inc. has begun to collect and test sediment samples from within the harbor to determine if dredging and disposal will have any negative impacts on the environment. The results of these tests will assist the Post 45 team in determining where and how sediment removed during deepening and/or widening can be disposed.
The Post 45 team is also drawing on the expertise and experience from several universities. Coastal Carolina University (CCU) has been hard at work performing surveys of the harbor necessary to assess the presence of, or lack thereof, cultural and historic resources. The CCU team uses several pieces of vessel-mounted equipment to survey specific areas of the federal channel and harbor that may be impacted by deepening and/or widening. If the survey results indicate significant potential for items of cultural or historical interest, divers and/or cameras will be used to identify the items. The information gathered by CCU, as well as the recently released map of war relics done by the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Archeology and Anthropology, will enable the Post 45 team to mitigate potential impacts to these resources.
All of the studies being done aid the Post 45 team tremendously in identifying the alternative that is both environmentally-acceptable and maximizes net economic benefits to the nation. The District will continue to work with our partners, resource agencies, contractors and the public to complete the feasibility study as quickly and efficiently as possible. Stay tuned as we continue to dig deeper into the Post 45 feasibility study.