Mayor Outlines Flooding and Drainage Plans, Again

Now, after repeated historic floods over the past several years and an expected sea level rise of 2-3 feet in the future, the city is expediting plans to fix the old infrastructure and make sure new problems aren’t inadvertently created with new developments, the mayor said.

read more

Site Visit to Holland Stirs Charleston Flooding Mitigation Vision

Winslow Hastie, CEO of the Historic Charleston Foundation, said what he got from the trip is how the Netherlands’ flood management projects — since they were done in a way that also improves the quality of life — helped get the country out of a negative spiral. Post and Courier, Oct. 6, 2018

read more

Low Country Meets Low Country to Study Flooding Mitigation

“It’s a fascinating dance that they do,” said City Councilman Mike Seekings, who was on the trip. “They manage the water coming across, keep the water out from the North Sea and make sure their land has enough water to survive so it doesn’t subside.” —Post and Courier, Oct. 12, 2018

read more

Views on the Dutch Approach to Flooding

Charleston needs all hands on deck, from City Council to Congress, to remain a livable city as the waters rise. And as the Dutch have learned from centuries of experience, sometimes the most effective way to do that might be to embrace the water rather than fighting it. –P and C editorial, Oct. 14, 2018

read more

National Straws Stir Peninsula Flooding Solutions

Over the past six months or so, Faison has met with South Carolina lawmakers, Mayor John Tecklenburg, city and county council members as well as local nonprofit leaders to discuss Charleston’s flooding issues and the possibility of building a flood barrier along Lockwood Drive. –Post and Courier, Oct. 19, 2008

read more

Can Dutch Intervention Keep Charleston Dry?

Americans are turning toward the Dutch because, in their telling, they have a success story to share—a rare glimmer of hope in cities facing the existential threats of sea-level rise, storm surge, and mass human migration. –City Labs, Oct. 16, 2018

read more

Florence Gives Charleston a Pass

“People,” McMaster had said, “we need to prepare. This one [the storm] is particularly big, particularly strong. We don’t want to gamble with a single South Carolina life.” –P&C, Sept. 22, 2018

read more

Impervious Pavement: Water Doesn’t Stop Here

Despite the overwhelming body of evidence supporting the negative relationship between impervious surfaces and the environment, no one would seriously suggest that we stop paving streets or building parking lots. What, then, are the options?

read more

Houston Voters OK $2.5 Billion Bond Issue to Mitigate Flooding

The measure is the largest bond Harris County voters have ever approved. County Judge Ed Emmett said voters have stepped up to show the rest of the country that the Houston area takes flooding seriously, and can be a model for other coastal regions –Houston Chronicle, Aug. 26, 2018

read more

Water Levels Erase Rise in Projected Value of Homes

In the First Street report, researchers examined 9.2 million real-estate transactions across eight coastal states, and extrapolated to get the value of 20 million properties. They compared homes at higher elevations against those closer to sea level, or with roads that are vulnerable to flooding. –Wall Street Journal, Aug, 26, 2018

read more

Editorial: Flooding Erodes Charleston Property Values

According to a first-of-its-kind study by the Brooklyn-based First Street Foundation, Charleston-area homes collectively declined in value by $266 million between 2005 and 2017 due to damage from tidal flooding. –Post and Courier, Aug. 21, 2018

read more

Mayor Defends His Anti-flooding Initiatives

I commend the hard work of our city staff and City Council as we bring focus and efforts to the existential challenge of drainage and living with water for the Charleston community. Funding the projects and strategies is a complicated puzzle, one that the city takes with the utmost seriousness and dedication. –John Tecklenburg, Post and Courier, Aug. 16, 2018

read more

Federal Flood Insurance Gets Renewal Reprieve

The flood program, which is under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, turns 50 this year. It was created in 1968 to provide affordable insurance coverage that private carriers couldn’t or wouldn’t underwrite policies in coastal and flood-prone inland areas. Claims are capped at $350,000. –Post and Courier, Aug. 5, 2018

read more

A Year After Hurricane Harvey, FEMA Among the Missing

With a poverty rate of 29%, Port Arthur was among the poorest communities along the Texas Gulf Coast before Hurricane Harvey—and in the year since, it has struggled to recover from flooding that left almost the entire city of 55,000 underwater. –Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2018

read more

Hurricanes Grow Fiercer

In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report that said while it is too soon to scientifically determine whether climate warming caused by fossil fuel burning was having an impact on hurricanes in the Atlantic, the warming might already have caused changes that “aren’t confidently modeled” in the computers. –Post and Courier, Aug. 12, 2018

read more

Banker Finds City Slow and Timid in Flooding Crisis

There is no time to waste. Our political leaders must move expeditiously and comprehensively to confront the flooding crisis. We cannot afford to go down any more funding rabbit holes. –Hugh C. Lane Jr., chairman of the board, the Bank of South Carolina., commentary in Post and Courier, Aug. 3, 2018

read more

The New Norm: Lightning and Thunder

It does seem like it’s been raining all month. As of Monday, more than 7 inches of rain had fallen in July. But the record for the month is 18.46 inches set in 1964, courtesy of Tropical Storm No. 1 (storms weren’t named then). –Post and Courier, July 31, 2018

read more

Much Ado About Flooding

Spat between P&C and residents on tone of complaints to FEMA about city’s lax enforcement of flooding standards. Post and Courier, July 28, 2018

read more

WestEdge Drainage Decried

A project the size of WestEdge should have large retention ponds to collect the runoff that should then be pumped into the river. It’s the only solution. –Post and Courier, letter, July 29, 2018

read more

State Ports Boss Cited as Linch Pin for Charleston Flood Relief

It is a revealing exercise to pull up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s online sea rise calculator and plug in the addresses of the SPA’s five Charleston County terminals. Check out the terminals now and then at a sea level rise of 2 feet over the next 30 years as forecast by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The city of Charleston is planning for a rise of 2.5 feet over 50 years. –Post and Courier, July 29, 2018

read more

SC Beach Property Value Victimized by Sea Rise

The team behind Flood iQ used data on tidal flooding, hurricane storm surge, projected sea level rise and more to determine what properties are at risk and which have already seen devaluation. It also projects how much value properties could continue to lose based on current projections of sea level rise through 2033. –The State, July 25, 2018

read more

Rain, Rain, Rain . . . Flooding

The National Weather Service’s hazardous weather outlook Thursday laid it out: Slow moving thunderstorms will develop “and repeatedly pass over the same areas, resulting in localized areas of heavy rainfall. Flooding of low-lying or poor drainage areas will be possible.” –Post and Courier, July 17, 2018

read more

The High Costs of Sea Level Rise

The steady centimeter-scale encroachment causes high tides and strong winds to push the ocean into coastal neighborhoods with increasing frequency in regions where elevations barely rise away from the shoreline. Historically, in places like Miami and Charleston, South Carolina, where these events have occurred three to four times per year, they are projected to occur 100 to 200 times per year by 2050. Events like these do not destroy infrastructure but they damage it and impede commerce. –Columbia Business School

read more

‘Innovation’ is Dutch for Flood Mitigation

Like thousands of coastal cities from Shanghai to Miami, Osaka to New York, Rotterdam is under threat. More than 80% of this port on the Netherlands’ North Sea coast lies below sea level, the ocean kept at bay by a sophisticated system of levees, dykes, dams and storm-surge barriers known as the Delta Works. — The Economist, 1843 Magazine

read more

Flood Defence Slides

The slides for Wednesday's program on Flood Barriers follow below. Groundswell! was gratified that more than 100 people attended the event and many have requested site visits from the speaker, Keith Anderson, and more information....

read more

National Parks Assess Risk From Rising Seas

All coastal parks will need to contend with both changing sea levels and the intensification of storms and associated storm surge. This is particularly true of parks along the southeast coast, which have historically taken the brunt of tropical storms and hurricanes. –National Park Service, May 21, 2018

read more

Mayor Offers Mid-May Flooding Report — You’ve Heard It Before

Residents were left wondering how the substantial Sgt. Jasper project would affect its flood-vulnerable neighbors, why the city has not obtained more grant money, whether regional flood-mitigation efforts were under way, and how to contain destructive, heavy-footed drivers who create foot-high wakes as they speed through flooded streets. –Susan Lyons, May 21, 2018

read more

Misplaced Mercy for Builders Led to Watery Fate for Homeowners

All through the Lowcountry, developers have built and are building homes in floodplains. Developers move on, those who are supposed to oversee them come and go. But it is the people left behind, trapped in the debtors’ prison of the homes they cannot escape, who must live with the consequences. P&C April 28, 2018

read more

Planners Bypass Flooding Fears in Johns Island Project Okay

The Charleston Planning Commission narrowly approved the Oakville Plantation concept Wednesday with a 4-3 vote, giving the developer the permanent right to pursue its plans on the 201-acre property next to the Charleston Executive Airport. –Post and Courier, April 20, 2018

read more

A Venetian Solution to Flooding

Spread across dozens of islands and known as “the floating city” for its ubiquitous canals and bridges, Venice has grappled with inundation for centuries. But due to natural subsidence and the higher tides caused by global warming, the city is more vulnerable to flooding than ever before. So a flood barrier seemed like the obvious way to thwart future disasters.

read more

Forewarned But Forearmed?

Phil Klotzbach of the Tropical Meteorology Project is calling for a slightly above average season with 14 named storms, or storms with winds stronger than 39 mph. Seven of those would become hurricanes, with winds at 74 mph or stronger. Post and Courier, April 5, 2018

read more

After Flood, No Good Choice for Homeowner

The fundamental decision — stay or go — is one being faced by homeowners all around the Houston area. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of storms like Harvey, no neighborhood is immune from being flooded again. But the Swansons and other homeowners in Canyon Gate face a far more certain prospect: Their neighborhood is on land that was designed to be flooded. It is part of a reservoir that was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s to prevent catastrophic flooding downtown, a fact that developers did little to publicize when they built Canyon Gate in the 1990s. –New York Times, March 30, 2018

read more

P&C Editorial: Think Dutch for Flooding Help

City officials have identified about $2 billion worth of needed projects to help the city prepare for a wetter future. But the economy — and taxing potential — in this city of 135,000 or so residents is obviously quite a bit smaller than a nation of more than 17 million people. It would take more than a century for Charleston to come up with $2 billion at current revenue levels. At the rate sea levels appear to be rising, a lot of the city would be underwater by then. –Post and Courier, April 2, 2018

read more

Dutch Discuss ‘Dry Feet’ for Charleston’s Future

In a few months, leaders across the Charleston region and officials with the Netherlands are expected to decide whether to begin a more formal planning session to help the region brace for rising seas, heavier rains, future hurricanes and still more coastal development. –Post and Courier, March 29, 2018

read more

P&C Editorial: Untrammeled Development Equals Flooding

It’s going to cost about $2 billion to fix identified flooding problems in the Charleston city limits alone, and city officials don’t have many realistic options for getting that much money in the short term. It’s a mess, and many residents are rightly upset that their investments and livelihoods are imperiled by the poor planning of previous generations and the indomitability of nature. Editorial, Post and Courier, March 3, 2018

read more

Ancient Sewer System Can’t Handle Deluge

Angela Licata, a deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, said that in about 60 percent of the city’s sewer system, the same pipe is used to collect rainwater and sewage from homes and businesses, mainly in areas with older infrastructure. It was not until the 1950s that the city began building separate lines to avoid overloading the sewer system. “We’re grappling with this very difficult legacy problem,” she said. –New York Times, March 3, 2018

read more

Johns Island Residents Protest Against Developers’ Indifference to Drainage

Dozens of Johns Island residents have been showing up to city meetings over the past few weeks to urge City Council, Mayor John Tecklenburg and the Planning Commission to take a closer look at the development practices on Johns Island. Nearly 3,000 people — about a third of the island’s population — have signed an online petition to stop destructive building practices such as clear-cutting forests. –Post and Courier, March 1, 2018

read more

Where Will Charleston Drown Soonest?

The company is developing a variety of predictive tools, some of which look much like Google Maps, that it hopes will allow paying customers to zoom down to the city block level to get a better sense of the potential risks they face from storms, heat waves, wildfires or other climate-change effects in the coming decades. –New York Times, Feb. 28, 2018

read more

Fighting the 21st Century Battle of New Orleans

As he ends his eight-year run at City Hall, the mayor, Mitch Landrieu, sounds as if he has a bit of the prophet about him. The combination of sea level rise, subsidence and coastal erosion, he said in an interview, poses an “existential threat” for New Orleans. “What we should have done,” Mr. Landrieu said, “is build to a 10,000-year flood standard, which is what the Netherlands built to, and we didn’t, and that was for the country a monetary decision.” Now, he fears, his city itself could join a variety of landmarks that, as a popular local song puts it, “ain’t dere no more.” –New York Times, Feb. 25, 2018

read more

Fighting Rising Seas in Louisiana Bayou

Jean Lafitte may be just a pinprick on the map, but it is also a harbinger of an uncertain future. As climate change contributes to rising sea levels, threatening to submerge land from Miami to Bangladesh, the question for Lafitte, as for many coastal areas across the globe, is less whether it will succumb than when — and to what degree scarce public resources should be invested in artificially extending its life. –New York Times, Feb 25, 2018

read more

City Floats App Warning for Sunny-Day Rising Waters

The city of Charleston has an idea that caught the attention of Bloomberg Philanthropies: Tailored alerts for residents about tidal flooding. It is one of 35 “Champion Cities” selected Wednesday from more than 320 applications in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face, according to the nonprofit.

read more

Satellites See Sea Levels Rising Faster than Anticipated

If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 — enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities, according to a new assessment NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; CU Boulder; the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. — Feb. 12 , 2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

read more

Mayor’s Predicament: Land or Sea

If the mayor is serious about making flooding his top priority, he and City Council should pass a resolution asking County Council to designate a big portion of the half-cent money for drainage and flooding. –Post and Courier, Feb. 11, 2018

read more

Receding Carolina Shores Newly Revealed by Computer Maps

What happens next is as clear as pluff mud. Will cities protect their land? Will developers forgo profits by forgoing construction on low-lying land? Cities such as Charleston have long lacked a sense of urgency about sea rise — even in the face of constant flooding. –Post and Courier, Feb. 11, 2018

read more

Check Valves Enlisted Against Nuisance Flooding

The strategy involves installing new check valves, a specialized insert into a drainage pipe that lets rainwater flow out toward the harbor but prevents high tides from flowing back in. From the Post and Courier, Feb. 10, 2018

read more

Mayor’s Words on Flooding Just a Beginning

Groundswell!’s two primary objectives are still to be achieved. Plans to protect the city from the next storm are only lightly sketched out, not at all on firm financial footing, and a fully-staffed flood office is but a mirage. Letter in Post and Courier, Feb. 8, 2018

read more

Plea for Green Space and Runoff

There is more to the flooding of the peninsula than a rising sea. Just ride around and look at all the paved driveways. None should have ever been paved until they met criteria for absorption of rainwater. Post and Courier, Feb. 3, 2018

read more

Raising Homes a Solution for Some to Flooding

Winslow Hastie of the Historic Charleston Foundation said the preservation group has been supportive of such home-elevation efforts and said the owners have been thoughtful and deliberate. –Post and Courier, Feb. 7, 2018

read more

Charleston Needs Development Moratorium

Water has become the defining issue for 21st century Charleston, everywhere. It is time we had a government that recognizes its duty to first and foremost protect its people before it aids and abets profiteering developers. –Letter in Post and Courier, Feb. 3, 2018, by Philip Dustan, Ph. D.

read more

Bold Thoughts on Funding for City Flooding Mitigation

The conventional wisdom is that cities are broke. But that’s because we think of cities as governments and we focus on what they owe, given pension and other liabilities. . . . This narrow view of cities constrains our ability to see the multiple opportunities for raising capital. We see cities, firstly, as networks of institutions and leaders and, relatedly, as communities that have vast market and civic power that can be tapped.

read more

Ghostwriting Tecklenburg on Flooding

Columnist Steve Bailey offers Mayor John Tecklenburg wish list draft of a state-of-the-city speech on how to save the community from a watery grave, via Post and Courier, Jan. 21, 2018

read more

Fresh water ecology affected by ocean climate change

By burning fossil fuels, we have already raised the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40 percent, and we’re on track to increase it by much more. Some of that gas may mix into the world’s inland waters, and recent studies hint that this may have profound effects on the species that live in them, via New York Times, Jan. 11, 2018

read more

Flooding is Charleston’s top priority

Flooding is Charleston's top Priority One might ask what do New York City and Charleston, S.C., have in common? At one point the two were voted the friendliest cities in the United States. And, according to articles in the Nov. 19 New York Times and The Post and...

read more

While we were sleeping, tides and costs kept rising

While we were sleeping, tides and costs kept rising By Steve Bailey At the current rate of spending, the city is on pace to complete its plans to control flooding in 240 years, give or take a generation. This according to the city’s own numbers. In the 30 years from...

read more

Header Images Provided by Preservation Society of Charleston