State Sen. Tom Davis thinks South Carolinians won't see a long-awaited port in Jasper County for decades if Georgia gets federal approval to deepen the Savannah River.
That's because Georgia's plan to ensure the channel is deep enough for the next-generation of cargo ships to reach its Garden City Terminal calls for dredge spoils to be dumped until 2060 on the site of a proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal.
The 1,500-acre Jasper port site is owned by both states.
Georgia's plan is outlined in a recent stack of studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and would preclude the Jasper port development because the Corps would keep the easement for the disposal site for another 49 years, according to Davis, R-Beaufort.
Davis says the plan is "not an act of good faith" and violates the spirit of two documents governing the Jasper site -- a 2007 congressional provision that calls for the Corps to prepare to release the easement and a 2007 agreement that called for both states to work together to develop the Jasper port.
Georgia officials have said dumping dredge spoils there would aid the development of a Jasper port because the land needs to be raised before it can accommodate development.
Davis says private investors would be willing to do that more quickly. He warns that South Carolina could oppose Georgia's deepening plan if Georgia and Corps officials don't change course, pick a different place to dump the dredge spoils and establish a timetable for the easement's release.
"If they proceed in that manner, they've bought themselves some trouble," Davis said.