SCDOT restarting project that may have caused sinkholes in Georgetown

SCDOT restarting project that may have caused sinkholes in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - A "dewatering project" in Georgetown restarted Wednesday. Last November, when crews were working to pump groundwater out of a construction site downtown, the dewatering project had to be stopped because sinkholes opened up.

This time around officials with the South Carolina Department of Transportation are taking the pumping project slower and are monitoring ground wells around the city.

Kyle Berry, an SCDOT district engineer, said crews will be watching water levels very closely.

"Our geo-technical engineers have been monitoring the ground water levels here for the past five or six months," said Berry. "If we approach thresholds and we need to stop, then we just cease dewatering activities and start filling this retention area back up with water."

Berry says they are being conservative with the project. It is one of the final major steps of the Georgetown drainage project that began in the spring of 2010.

"It was like living in a swamp," said Annie Boykin, who is referring to life in Georgetown before the project began. "Every time it rained we couldn't get around."

Boykin says after two years of orange cones and heavy machinery on the roadways, she's ready for some peace and quiet. But she's already seeing the results of the work by the SCDOT on the cities main arteries.

"In the beginning it was horrible, now it's wonderful," said Boykin.

However, in November, a large sinkhole opened up in the middle of town. The earth beneath an office building that housed at least five businesses disappeared causing part of the building to collapse into itself.

"I didn't actually see the building collapse, but I remember passing by it for the first time," said Braker Carter.

Carter says the hole in the ground was an eye opener. The building that was partially swallowed has since been demolished. Now an empty lot is all that remains.

Berry says the project is a little more than 90 percent completed.

The dewatering will be a huge step in the right direction if the SCDOT wants to complete the project by early 2013, their projected completion date.

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