Sunday, September 29, 2019

Drainage Improvement

My most important goal for the next four years will be to continue to improve drainage on James Island.   Much progress has been made, but there is more to do.   I believe that I have the experience and knowledge needed to move the Town forward.

The Town, working with Charleston County and the City of Charleston, just completed the first Island-wide Drainage Basin Delineation.  I called for this joint effort after the "thousand year flood" in 2015.  It is now complete.  I want to make sure that the three Island governments follow through.  The James Island Creek basin was shown to have the greatest problems.  We need a complete study of that basin.  But we can't just keep studying, we need to start to start relieving the choke points identified in the study due to undersized pipes. I want to break ground on the first project next year.

Since 2013, stormwater managers from the Town, Charleston County, the City of Charleston, and South Carolina Department of Transportation have met at Town Hall to coordinate drainage work.   Charleston County Public Works found the original drainage plans for Town neighborhoods from decades ago and all Island governments are working together to reestablish  Island drainage. The Town is obtaining easements on key "private" ditches in some neighborhoods that were never dedicated to the public even as neighborhoods grew up around them. This vital work must continue.

The negative impact on neighboring homes when new development uses fill has become more and more apparent.  The Town is currently reviewing its ordinances to provide protection to neighbors when fill is used. The Town is also working in coordination with Charleston County Building Services to update our building codes and flood ordinances.  Over the next four years, these new rules must be implemented to make sure that new development no longer imposes flooding on neighboring homes.

Charleston County Public Works provides the Town with approximately $150,000 worth of basic drainage maintenance each year.   The County does good work for us, and I believe we should continue to accept their help.   The Town has three on-call contractors who do both basic maintenance and repairs.  The Town used our contractors to slip line the outfall at Grimsley Drive and construct a new drainage line between Tallwood Drive and Canopy Cove.  The Town has and will continue to utilize our contractors on both Town drainage infrastructure, and when necessary, SCDOT infrastructure.  Construction of an additional drainage pipe under Fort Johnson Road near Lighthouse Blvd.will begin next year.  During the next four years, I want to  expand the number of contractors utilized by the Town to add firms specializing in driveway aprons and stormwater inlet maintenance. 

The Town's own public works Team (up to three now, and I sometimes join in) have developed experience to immediately respond to flooding by inspecting the choke points we have identified and use hand tools to remove blockages.  Over the next four years, I want to hone our efforts to make sure the Town's own Team promptly responds to rain events and clears what are sometimes small obstructions that can have major negative impacts.

Please give me the opportunity to continue to improve the Town's drainage.  The threat of rising sea levels and worsening storms makes this work vital. 

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