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Industrial rezoning threatens water supply
Water drop
Multiple City of Savannah employees pleaded with the Effingham County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 2 to deny a request to rezone 130 acres on Old Augusta Road, voicing concerns that a proposed industrial park near Abercorn Creek will threaten the supply of drinking water for 400,000 people in Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties. - photo by File

Old Augusta Road between Fort Howard Road and Ga. Hwy 21 is being taken over by industrial sites without sufficient public scrutiny.

The latest site is a 388-acre tract at 923 S. Old Augusta Road, being annexed by the City of Rincon. I would ask your readers to join us at the Sept. 26 council meeting to oppose the annexation and rezoning.

Twenty years ago, my husband and I moved from Wilmington Island to the east side of Effingham County, reassured by the county’s master plan that future industry would be located on the west side, along the Effingham Parkway corridor. The neighboring properties were zoned residential and agricultural. We liked that our neighbors had roots in this community, some for multiple generations.

Today, we find that hundreds of acres are routinely being turned into industrial sites with limited public input and no longterm planning by local governments. The needs of local residents play no part in what appears to be a “gold rush” capitalizing on lucrative land sales. While we assume all required public notices are being made, we find that very few people in our community know what is happening.

If part of this 388-acre tract is zoned for industrial use, it might be used for warehouses but could also be used for other industries like bulk fuel storage above or below ground. Sweigoffer Creek runs through this tract of land and empties into Abercorn Creek upstream of the City of Savannah water intake facility. If an industrial spill occurs, the drinking water supply for 400,000 people would be in peril. Spill containment downstream would not be easy as this is effectively swampland: not accessible and tidal in nature (water flows back and forth).

Furthermore, Sweigoffer Creek provides drainage for much of the City of Rincon and large neighborhoods like Silverwood Plantation and Lost Plantation. The paved and roofed surfaces of an industrial site shed water far more rapidly than forested land, which may well overload the creek system and cause flooding upstream.

We are blessed to be living on the bluff of the Savannah River. The swamplands and creeks clean the water, provide habitat for wildlife, and protect the bluff from river erosion. Any future development must include measures to protect existing communities, safeguard the Savannah River estuary, and promote coastal sustainability.

Join in the effort to stop encroachment on wild lands and protect the drinking water supply for current and future generations. Attend the Rincon City Council meeting Sept. 26  at 7 p.m. at Council Chambers 107 W. 17th St., Rincon,.

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Darlene Vincent