Time running out to comment on Army Corps’ Charleston flood risk study

VIDEO: Time running out to comment on Army Corps’ Charleston flood risk study

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Friday is the last day for public comment on the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Risk Management Study until 2021.

Federally funded, this study is a three-year, $3 million look at Charleston’s frequently debilitating floods.

Though the study is federally funded and being conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Charleston is still contributing as the non-federal sponsor.

“It’s important now so the Army Corps and the city hear what the citizens’ concerns and comments are, to see if there’s ways to put those into the plan moving forward,” Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Resilience Mark Wilbert, said.

The study suggests an additional barrier wall at the current battery wall downtown.

The top of the new wall would sit 12-feet above sea-level which is three-feet higher than the highest part of the battery right now.

While it will maintain that elevation, the further down you go, the wall will appear lower because the ground is lower.

In areas of hard ground, there would be a concrete flood wall. In areas of softer ground or marsh, there would be a combination wall which has support pillars going into the water itself.

The Army Corps additionally suggests adding wave reducers about 230 feet from the shoreline along with storm surge gates in the marshes that can open and close.

The project is budgeted for five permanent pump stations and five mobile pump stations. The stations would mitigate for rainfall runoff that would “pond” on the interior of the storm surge wall.

“We’re still a long ways to putting the first shovel in the ground and this is going to be a very interactive process all the way through,” Wilbert said. “But what is important is that we understand what the barrier will protect and approximately how much it will cost.”

The estimated total project cost is $1.75 billion.

Wilbert says the plan is expected to be finalized around May 2021 and should go to DC in October 2021. The first time it would be available for federal funding would be in 2022 in the Water Resources Defense Act.

Public officials are asking for commentary now as the study reaches its halfway point and enters its final phase.

There will be one more public comment in early 2021, Wilbert says.

“You know, this is our city,” Wilbert said. “This is our peninsula, we know what’s been done here, we know what the future looks like here, and we want to make sure that this wall is something that everybody in the city can say ‘look, we understand the purpose for the wall, but there was a lot of thought put into where the wall is, what the wall looks like, how it actually helps to protect our city and keep our city functioning.”

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