Charleston taking ecological approach to fight Johns Island drainage woes

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 4:45 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:59 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city leaders will be discussing a new drainage project on Johns Island aimed at decreasing flooding in the Barberry Woods neighborhood.

The Barberry Woods Drainage project heads to Charleston’s Technical Review Committee Thursday.

City leaders said when the neighborhood was built, a historic stream and wetland system were blocked, causing major drainage issues in the area. This neighborhood isn’t the only one in the area that was built like this.

Charleston’s Director of Stormwater Management, Mathew Fountain, said the city’s plan is to redirect water around the neighborhood by building a new stream channel.

The channel will be surrounded by about 20 acres of wetland-type floodplain, so as water levels go up they can spread out and be stored in the wetlands.

Fountain said it will also serve as an ecological park for people to go birding or nature walking and to see how the wetlands work in the native Charleston environment.

He said although it may cost slightly more than $15 million with this design, he believes it will be worth it in the long run.

“You end up with something that is actually nice and enjoyable and an amenity to the community rather than something that just barely meets the minimum requirements and basically everyone ends up unhappy with,” Fountain said.

The project is still working through permitting but if all goes as planned, Fountain estimates construction to begin within roughly a year.

The meeting is Thursday morning at 9 a.m. and will be accessible through a zoom link.