CHARLESTON, S.C. — After months of studying, modeling and workshops, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District released a draft report April 20 on a recommended, federally-supported coastal storm surge risk reduction plan for the Charleston peninsula.
Given the ongoing public health situation involving the novel coronavirus and South Carolina’s “work or home” order, our team has had to adjust how we do business and get messages out to the public. As a result, we extended the public comment period from 30 to 60 days and made hard copies available for pickup outside our district office. The community is encouraged to provide feedback on the draft report electronically or by mail through June 19.
The report, which reflects findings halfway through the three-year flood risk management study, presents an overview of the study’s multi-tier analysis and outlines an economically viable solution that would reduce the risk of damages from future coastal storm surges on the peninsula. Conceptual layouts seek to minimize impacts on the local ecosystem or the city’s historical character, while providing substantial flood risk reduction benefits to the peninsula, including historic resources.
“It’s important to emphasize that this study is still in the preliminary stages,” said Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd, Charleston District commander. “Since day one, the study team has worked closely with the city to maximize the degree to which any incorporated measures complement the local historic setting and offer the community a cost-effective reduction of coastal storm risks.”
Just one component of an overall flooding strategy for the City of Charleston, the federal study’s proposed plan, known as the National Economic Development Plan, takes the city’s ongoing efforts into consideration, including the city’s elaborate Sea Level Rise Strategy, major drainage projects, and additional flood-related concerns like sea level rise.
The NED plan accomplishes the study objective of a comprehensive, fiscally responsible and minimally invasive storm surge damage mitigation plan across the peninsula. The plan tentatively includes three features: a perimeter storm surge wall, an off-shore wave attenuator and nonstructural flood-proofing.
If approved, funded and implemented, the project would provide an estimated $175 million of annualized benefits to the city. According to study results, all critical medical facilities on the peninsula and more than half of the historic structures are at risk of closure or ruin during a significant coastal storm event without implementation of the NED plan.
Designs, exact layouts and other specific plan details are not finalized. If Congress authorizes additional movement on the study, these are refined during the optimization and design phases.
The Army Corps of Engineers encourages the public provide input on the draft report, which also includes an assessment of environmental impacts and a summary of their findings.
“At this point in the study’s progress, public feedback is critical,” said Honderd. “We’ve been tasked to investigate the peninsula’s vulnerability to coastal storm events, and we’re committed to creating a solution that best mitigates its coastal storm risks and damages while protecting the local environment.”
To learn more about the Charleston Peninsula Study and obtain the full draft report, visit www.sac.usace.army.mil/charlestonpeninsulastudy or check out the study visual outline at https://arcg.is/0HHiSf. A hard copy of the draft report is also available for pickup at Charleston District office at 69A Hagood Avenue, Charleston, SC Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. until June 19.
The public can provide feedback using the digital feedback form on the study website or by mailing comments to the Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District Planning and Environment Office at the district office address listed below. We will address all comments in the final report.