Savannah Harbor Deal Hinges on Oxygen Machines

An out-of-court settlement ending legal challenges to the deepening of Savannah's harbor could still fall apart unless a federal agency can prove it's able to artificially boost oxygen in the water to help fish breathe.

The agreement reached last week in federal court lets the government proceed with a $652 million plan to dredge more than 30 miles of the Savannah River leading to the city's port.

Conservation groups dropped lawsuits after the Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Ports Authority promised extra environmental monitoring and conservation efforts.

The deal requires the Corps to perform two 59-day tests using machines that essentially work like aquarium bubblers to offset reductions in dissolved oxygen needed by fish near the river bottom.

If the machines don't work, environmentalists can scrap the settlement.

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