GPA teams with Nature to safeguard water quality

GPA teams with Nature to safeguard water quality

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz unveils a 14-acre wetland during an Earth Day 2014 celebration at the GPA’s Garden City Terminal in Savannah GA. (GPA/Stephen B Morton)

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) celebrated Earth Day by unveiling nearly 14 acres of recently created wetlands. The 2.5-year, $3.7-million project treats 100 million gallons of water annually and creates natural wildlife habitat in the heart of the nation’s fourth-busiest container terminal.
“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 wildlife including fish, amphibians, and birds such as anhingas, great blue herons, and belted kingfishers.
These wetlands harness natural filtering processes to help protect water quality in the Savannah River while also providing flood control.
Foltz said the wetlands are part of a wider culture of environmental stewardship at the GPA. He detailed voluntary investments to reduce emissions, including electrifying ship-to-shore cranes and refrigerated container racks. These elements of GPA’s sustainability program help avoid the use of more than 5.8 million gallons of diesel annually.
The current inventory of 84 refrigerated container racks power more than 2,000 containers at a time. Supporting poultry and other exports, each rack avoids the use of 54,000 gallons of diesel annually for a total 4.5 million gallons every year.
Foltz also discussed the environmental advantage of the GPA’s four new super post-Panamax cranes, which run entirely on electricity. The newest cranes have integrated generators to capture power while lowering boxes. In this way, the cranes power themselves for 18 minutes of each operating hour. With the four new cranes, Garden City has 25—the most of any terminal on the East Coast.
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 reduce diesel consumption by up to 95% 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.
Go to to find details about GPA’s sustainability efforts.
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