Army Corps of Engineers ask for public input on storm surge study

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A federal study that looks at storm surge on Charleston’s peninsula is moving forward to a new phase.

Since 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working with the city of Charleston on a study that looks at how coastal storm surge affects Charleston’s peninsula. As the study moves forward, city officials say they support the decisions being made.

“It’s really a tremendous commitment on [the army corps’] part to the city of Charleston to long-term protection from what I call existential threat of sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said.

On Tuesday, the USACE and the city of Charleston held a virtual public scoping meeting to encourage input on the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study as the study transitions into Environmental Impact Statement or EIS.

As part of the National Environmental Policy Act process, the army corps is transitioning to EIS to take a deeper look into project impacts and come up with a plan to mitigate them.

The decision comes after the Corps released a draft of the study in April of 2020. The proposed plan included an 8-mile storm surge wall around the Peninsula with vehicle and pedestrian gates. The storm surge wall consists of a “T-wall” on high ground which are large concrete barriers, and a combination wall in the marsh.

Based on public feedback, officials said people were concerned about the visual, environmental, and cultural effects of the project.

Officials also released a new version of the plan that changes the alignment of the storm surge wall.

“From a public perspective, the optimized wall height, you will see a shorter wall, reduction of impacts to wetlands and significantly less expenses to build,” USACE Charleston Project Manager Wes Wilson said.

As the plan moves forward in the EIS process, the public will have more chances to provide feedback.

Officials want people to take into account all the changes made and provide feedback on possible alternatives to consider.

Due to the process, the expected study completion date has been extended from Fall 2021 to Summer 2022.

The Army Corps will release a draft report of the study later this year for public review.

People can provide comments during a 30-day public input period that ends on April 22. For more information about the study and how to submit a comment click here.

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