Church Creek Drainage Basin report calls for $44 Million in infrastructure upgrades

Church Creek Drainage Basin report calls for $44 Million in infrastructure upgrades
November 13 21:53 2017 Print This Article

Bob Horner, the project manager for the engineering firm Weston & Sampson tasked with developing a plan to minimize flooding in the Church Creek Drainage Basin in West Ashley, told Charleston City Council that the suggested upgrades in drainage infrastructure would cost an estimated $44 Million dollars. City Council proceeded to extend the building moratorium within the basin’s 100-year flood plain to late May 2018.

Horner also identified 350 properties with an estimated value of $50 Million to $70 Million which should be considered for flooding mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The FEMA grant program pays homeowners in the flood-prone areas 75% of their pre-flood home values and then condemns the properties from future development. Missing from the report was a cost estimate for the maintenance needed to keep up the drainage system.

The top three infrastructure improvements listed in the report were a pumping station to be located near West Ashley Circle, tidal surge gates at several locations and diversion channels to re-direct stormwater runoff outflows directly to the Ashley River or the Stono River. The report also called for more water storage areas through the construction of retention ponds, particularly in the undeveloped area north of Village Green adjacent to Highway 61.

Mayor John Tecklenburg praised Horner and his Weston & Sampson team for its research and findings.  The study included 14 public meetings, aerial photographs, field surveys (including the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irma) and state-of-the-art computer modeling.  Tecklenburg told Horner, “Two years ago, there were people who thought nothing could be done to fix drainage along the Church Creek Basin.  Now City Council knows that something can be done.  The challenge is going to be how to come up with the money to pay for it.”

Councilman Peter Shahid called for more caution before approving future projects within the Church Creek Basin.  He said, “Going forward, we can’t let development contribute to the (flooding) problem.”  He noted that the wetlands mitigation bank which has been used to grant permits in the past does not protect the property owners in the area.

Horner will present his report to the general public Thursday at 6:30 pm at West Ashley High School.