"In the business we're in, it's a river that needs to bring us together," Foltz told the Propeller Club of Charleston on Thursday. The club is made up of the city's maritime interests.
The Post and Courier reported Foltz acknowledged the river divides the states physically and politically but stressed the need for federal dollars to deepen the shipping channels in both Savannah and Charleston.
He also said that work needs to proceed on a joint container terminal being planned for the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.
"If both states get on board, that facility's not built for 15, 20 years," he said. "In 20 years, everything in Charleston is going to be full and everything in Savannah is going to be full."
South Carolina and Georgia are in heated competition for container business, and South Carolina environmental groups are worried plans to deepen the Savannah shipping channel could cause environmental damage.
Foltz was asked about one environmental expert's comments that the models about the impact of the channel deepening are flawed.
"Forty million dollars in environmental studies for 12 years," Foltz replied. "Do you really think somebody shortchanged it?"
The Army Corps of Engineers issued a draft report last year on deepening the shipping channel. The project to deepen 35 miles of the channel to 48 feet is expected to cost $588 million.
Plans to build a joint terminal in Jasper County on the South Carolina side of the river have stalled because of concerns from South Carolina about the Savannah channel deepening.
One South Carolina port official says it would be pointless to keep working on the Jasper County port because the deepening plan proposes using the terminal site for dumping mud and sediments dredged from the channel.