Crosstowne Church wants to be part of flooding solution

Crosstowne Church wants to be part of flooding solution
March 29 10:58 2019 Print This Article

Crosstowne Church on Bees Ferry Road has been the victim of flooding multiple times since 2015. Now the West Ashley church wants to be part of the solution. Pastor Paul Rienza hosted a Town Hall meeting with Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin and city staff personnel Thursday to discuss the situation along the Church Creek Drainage Basin. City Councilmen Bill Moody, Marvin Wagner and Kevin Shealy were also in attendance.

Rienzo said that his church hired a hydrology firm to study the conditions in Church Creek and had the study reviewed by three universities. He shared the study with City of Charleston officials. The study concludes that Church Creek flooding is not caused by tidal events and sea level rise but by stormwater runoff caused by filling wetlands and over-development. Sea level has been rising an average of 3.25 millimeters per year (one foot per 100 years) since the 1880s, yet flooding along Church Creek has only been a problem since 2015.

Among the solutions recommended by the Crosstown Church study are creating new water storage areas along the basin, preserving wetlands, and stopping the practice of granting permit exemptions to developers. In particular, Rienzo and has been working with the developers involved in the planned 6000-home Long Savannah project and the 240-home Harmony project. Both developments involve filling wetlands. Most of the Long Savannah development drains into the Stono River rather than Church Creek.

Griffin introduced Charleston’s first Director of Stormwater Management, Matthew Fountain. Fountain noted that the city has increased the easement width in the Church Creek basin to 50 feet, so that maintenance vehicles have better access. He added that the city has updated its stormwater manual, increasing the drainage standards for new development. Most importantly, Fountain has developed a periodic maintenance schedule to clear ditches, culverts and storm drains by neighborhood, with the goal of visiting every neighborhood at least twice a year. For example, the flood-prone Shadowmoss Plantation subdivision is scheduled for maintenance in April and October this year. Fountain urged residents to call the city help desk at 843-724-7311 if they observe clogged drains.

Some drainage engineering upgrades are in the works for the Church Creek basin. The former Bridgepointe condominium development and surrounding properties were bought out by FEMA and are scheduled for demolition soon. The land will be preserved as a lake or wetlands area. A water diversion channel is being planned as a buffer for the Hickory Farms subdivision. Griffin said the city is reviewing the possibility of raising the freeboard required for new development to two feet above the FEMA flood plain elevation. He also all sources of state and federal funds are being sought for drainage improvements. “We’re going to protect our homeowners,” Griffin said.