The Charleston District’s Civil Works program involves water resource development activities including navigation safety, hurricane and storm risk management, ecosystem restoration, hydropower, and recreation. The Civil Works program includes the operation and maintenance of several navigation projects, including Charleston Harbor and 210 miles of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Charleston District has been maintaining Charleston Harbor for more than 140 years and has dredged a portion of it every year during that time. The District has completed storm damage reduction projects to repair and protect against future disasters. The District operates a hydropower dam, in St. Stephen, SC, and has completed multiple phases of a regional water supply project that provides power and safe drinking water to underdeveloped areas of South Carolina. Additionally, the District boasts an active regulatory program balancing responsible development and the preservation of our nation’s aquatic resources.
Storm and Flood Damage Reduction
The District has completed several beach nourishment projects, including the Grand Strand and Folly Beach, as part of our storm damage reduction mission and continues to look for ways to proactively protect the infrastructure behind the dunes. The District has also completed multiple flood damage reduction projects throughout the Lowcountry and the Midlands.
The Charleston District has completed a water treatment facility for the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency. The project includes installing 62 miles of water transmission lines that will bring clean water to the area from the water treatment plant that generates approximately eight million gallons of water per day. As an additional part of the system, the District completed construction of a water tower in Orangeburg County to serve the local industrial park and nearby residents.
Sweetgrass Harvesting Program
Sweetgrass is the staple material used to make the famous sweetgrass baskets that date back to the 1700s in South Carolina and due to development it is becoming difficult to find. Naturally growing sweetgrass was discovered at the District’s Cooper River Rediversion Project. In 2014, the Charleston District launched a community outreach campaign to provide open and free access to this site, hosting an annual "Sweetgrass Pulling Day" to spark community interest in the dying art form and to highlight the District’s environmental restoration mission. In just a few short years, this event has become an integral part of saving a cultural tradition while also improving the Corps’ reputation and relevancy as an organization that makes environmental restoration and positive community relations a top priority. The District has been recognized for this program by the Public Relations Society of America with a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence, the U.S. Army with the Kathy Canham-Ross Award of Distinction and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Herbert A. Kassner Public Affairs Award in Community Relations.
The Cooper River Rediversion Project and St. Stephen Powerhouse not only reduce shoaling in the Charleston Harbor by rediverting water back to the Santee River, but also provide power to 40,000 homes in the Santee Cooper power grid. The powerhouse is also home to the only fish passage project of its kind east of the Mississippi River, which passes, on average, 750,000 American shad, blueback herring, striped bass, and other species during fish passing season. The project sits on 2,500 acres that also provides an abundance of vegetables, sunflower fields and sweetgrass to promote wildlife in the area. One type of wildlife that calls St. Stephen home are bees, the District has installed seven beehives in hopes of increasing pollinators and pollination, without which there wouldn’t be fruits, vegetables, flowers and trees.