As government engineers work to keep the nation’s fourth-busiest seaport from losing its competitive edge, they are also planning what amounts to a massive science project to ensure fish in the harbor can still breathe.
When the Savannah harbor is deepened to allow for supersized cargo ships, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to install a dozen machines that function like bubblers in a home aquarium to compensate for an expected drop in dissolved oxygen. The 20-foot-tall steel cones suck water from the river, swirl it with oxygen from a generator until the bubbles break down and then pump it back.
Buying and installing the machines costs a hefty $70 million, plus yearly operating costs of $1.2 million. And the manufacturer says they’ve never been used for a project of this scale.