Evaluating Beach and Nearshore Sediment Transport Impacts from the Proposed Deepening of the Savannah Harbor
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The Savannah River system is both an important natural and economic resource. A recent proposal to deepen the Federal Navigation Channel must therefore consider all possible project-related impacts. In particular, this study focused on the changes the deepening of the Bar Channel will cause to the current, wave and sediment transport environment, which may result in impacts to the regional shorelines. This study evaluates these impacts using a combination of historical data analysis, field data collection, current, wave and sediment transport modeling, and sediment budget analysis. This study includes the Savannah River, Tybee Island (GA) and Turtle, Daufuskie, and Hilton Head Islands (SC). By evaluating post-project effects through state of the art computer modeling and analysis, potential problems can be identified prior to project implementation. This is an invaluable tool for resource managers. In considering the large changes to the coastal environment caused by the navigation project (as shown by the comparison of 1854 simulations to existing condition simulations), the changes induced by the proposed 6-foot deepening of the 44-foot channel are small. The navigation channel is already a littoral sink and totally interrupts the natural sediment bypassing system. This study indicates that the project will result in small changes to the wave field, and thereby causing small changes to the sediment transport environment. The end result is that the deepening project will cause a small change to a system in which the navigation channel is already exerting its maximum potential as a littoral barrier.