Upgrades necessary to ensure port's future

The good news continues for the community and the state. The unprecedented growth in tonnage flowing in and out of the Port of Brunswick throughout the most recently ended fiscal year is carrying on into the new fiscal year that began July 1.

Colonel's Island alone saw a 47 percent jump in machinery and vehicles. Port-wide, the increase amounts to around 30 percent.

That equates into business opportunities and jobs - incomes for individuals and families. Being a port community certainly has its advantages, particularly in this day and time, when every job, every opportunity, is so highly coveted.

But there are the proverbial dark clouds on the horizon. While the Port of Brunswick is managing to sustain an upsurge in goods crossing its docks, nature is doing her best to get in the way of prosperous times in the future. Silt from tropical storms in the spring and early summer, combined with normal daily erosion caused by everyday tidal changes and fast-moving currents, is filling in the channel vessels use to deliver and pick up at the docks in the city and on Colonel's Island. It's already lost enough depth to prompt harbor pilots to warn shipping companies of possible delays.

Ordinarily, it's not much of a problem. Federal funding allows the Army Corps of Engineers to reverse Mother Nature's mischief. There was always enough to pay for routine maintenance.

That was until now, a time when Congress and federal agencies are becoming more and more miserly with funds, even user fees generated by the ports themselves.

The Port of Brunswick needs those funds. It will if it is to continue its success. It would be unfair of Congress to sit back and do nothing, like it has for Georgia's portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, where shoaling remains unchecked.

Explanations for the lack of funding for the waterway hinges on its lack of use commercially, or so those who hold the purse strings say.

Well, that definitely is not the case when it comes to the Port of Brunswick. Its commercial use is on the rise and well documented.