Charleston projecting to spend over $8M to address flooding in older West Ashley neighborhood

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 2:54 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2022 at 7:40 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As Tropical Storm Nicole brings coastal flooding to the area, the City of Charleston is working on a long-term fix to help cut down floodwater in an old West Ashley neighborhood.

Stormwater Management Director Matthew Fountain said the issues the Windemere area off Folly Road faces are common in some of the older neighborhoods while the city has grown over the past few decades.

He said when the neighborhood first started around 100 years ago, the city didn’t know much about climate change, and as more development came, the water runoff continued challenging the small drainage infrastructure already in place.

Crews are currently designing and permitting an $8.2 million upgrade to add a second drainage area and upgrade the underground pipes.

While they work on that upgrade, the city will be spending over $290,000 for a contractor to work on the current drainage pipe into the river.

“The neighborhoods won’t drain if the pipe just discharges into a wall of plump mud, so trying to clean those back out, get the water back to open water,” Fountain said. “This is having a contractor come in and do hydro excavation, which is basically like vacuuming all of the dirt out of that channel.”

Joe Kowaleski, the manager of Haddrell’s Point Tackle, said floodwater has gone into his store three times this year.

After Hurricane Ian, he had to spend $8,000 to deal with the floodwater and said relief can’t come soon enough.

“We get it probably worse than most,” Kowaleski said. “The gym that’s right next door to us, they’re just a few inches higher than we are here at this shop, so this is the one that gets the brunt of most of the flooding, but certainly, they do get flooding events. The library just down the street from us gets flooded too. I’m sure we’re all anxious to have some sort of remedy.”

Fountain said they hope to finish cleaning that drainage pipe by the end of this year before they can start construction on the larger project by the end of 2024.