Councilmembers concerned over plan to address flooding in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is considering an estimated billion-dollar plan to address coastal flooding along the peninsula, but some councilmembers say the plan does not do enough to address flooding in other parts of the city.
The city council received an update on a proposed plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a workshop on Tuesday.
The plan is estimated to cost around $1 billion, but the city would pay for 35% of that, meaning it’s on the hook for around $350 million if approved.
Councilmember Peter Shahid, who represents West Ashley, said he and members of council are not yet convinced.
“A majority of those on council are concerned as to committing a large part, well, almost all, of our money available to address these stormwater surge on the peninsula and not other parts of the city,” he said.
The plan calls for seawalls ranging from less than 3 feet to upwards of 12 feet high to be built around the peninsula.
Along with that, the proposal also calls for adding stormwater pumps and natural barriers, such as oyster reefs, to be built just outside of the shoreline.
Blair Holloway, the lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Charleston, said the average projection has sea levels rising in the area by just over a foot by 2040.
“Using that scenario, it would give us here in Charleston an estimate of around, roughly on average 125 coastal flood days per year,” Holloway said.
However, Holloway said the problems are not just in the future.
Since 2015, Holloway said there have been 26 major flood events in the area, meaning the tide in the harbor has reached 8 feet.
“If we talk about major coastal flooding, we’ve only had 40 of these tides or these events over the last 100 years,” Holloway said.
As for the plan, Shahid says it’s still early and plans can change.
“City council has not approved any funding for this,” Shahid said. “They’ve not made a commitment to how this project will proceed. This is still, key word with this, preliminary.”
Several documents need to be signed off by the mayor within the next week for this project to move forward.
If everything is approved, then the preliminary engineering and design phase can get started in just over a year.
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