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Georgia Ports wetlands project unveiled in honor of Earth Day

SAVANNAH, Ga.– The Georgia Ports Authority celebrated Earth Day by unveiling nearly 14 acres of recently created wetlands, under a 2.5 year, $3.7 million project that treats 100 million gallons of water annually and creates natural wildlife habitat.

“Our mission is to grow our business in environmentally responsible ways,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.

“This wetlands project is just one way we can reduce our environmental footprint while we continue to efficiently move cargo.”

The new wetlands form an aquatic system composed of native vegetation including bald cypress, cord grass and soft rush. The area, located between the Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility and the Garden City container terminal, supports diverse wildlife including fish, amphibians and birds such as anhingas, great blue herons and belted kingfishers, said a port relesae.

The wetlands harness natural filtering processes to help protect water quality in the Savannah River, while also providing flood control.

“We planted these wetlands with native plants, each supporting a specific aspect of stormwater filtration,” said GPA Environmental Sustainability Manager Natalie Dawn. “And, in turn, those plants attract diverse native wildlife.”

Georgia Ports Authority unveiled nearly 14 acres of created wetlands in honor of Earth Day 2014. The wetlands naturally filter stormwater and provide wildlife habitat.

Dawn said the GPA’s created wetlands set a higher standard for stormwater treatment.

“The typical method in industrial environments is to build a series of concrete culverts that quickly shuttle untreated stormwater into the river,” Dawn said. “That is not nearly as effective as utilizing natural wetlands and doesn’t provide animal habitat like these wetlands do.”

The GPA is also set to expand its program to electrify rubber-tired gantry cranes, incorporating new machines and retrofitting others. GPA’s electrified RTGs, first of its kind technology in North America, reduce diesel consumption by up to 95 percent per crane.

GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson noted that while the GPA has tripled its container traffic over the past 10 years, it has also cut in half its emissions per container moved. “This phenomenal business growth calls for proactive environmental strategies, and the Georgia Ports Authority will remain at the forefront of sustainable practices in the maritime industry,” Jepson said.

Find details about GPA’s sustainability efforts at