GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - Georgetown officials have come together with Coastal Carolina University scientists to see if there is a way to avoid silting after dredging.
Last week, Georgetown county and city officials announced they want to dredge the Port of Georgetown. Officials hope to carve a path for industry to grow but are worried that silting may happen again within the next two years.
Liberty Steel says they want to bring jobs to the area, but first need to be able to bring in small barges to grow their company. Right now, parts of the Port are as shallow as one foot deep, so barges are not able to come to the mill. By dredging the port, recreational and industrial boats could come and go easily.
The Port of Georgetown does not have water flowing through it, which causes silt to build rapidly and excessively.
A team from Coastal Carolina University took to the water Saturday to see if they can find a silting solution by installing sensors to monitor any movement in the port.
“To understand what is going on here, we need to find out where are the currents, where does the silt come from, and why does it clog the harbor so quickly,” Till Hanebuth, the lead Coastal Carolina scientist for this project says.
These twelve sensors are placed all over the harbor with intentions of collecting data that has never been studied here before.
“Then we can start to modify the river flow a little bit with minor modifications or structures to somehow regenerate the flow in the harbor just enough to keep it free of silt,” Hanebuth says.
The team expects the results to come in slowly but thoroughly and then they will give a recommendation to city and county officials on what the next step should be.
“It might be dredging is still requires but with a strategy that leads to something more sustainable, cheaper, longer lasting,” the scientist says.
Hanebuth says the overall goal is to come up with a cheap but effective result that will benefit all of Georgetown.
Coastal Carolina officials say results could be available for the project as early as September and hope to have a solution in place by this time next year.