The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the latest draft report Friday on the billion-dollar project intended to safeguard the Charleston peninsula from rising and increasingly common floodwater, the latest assessment of the massive infrastructure project.
The Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study (FRMS) is in the initial phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project delivery process to determine whether there is a federal interest in a storm surge solution on the Charleston peninsula.
Coastal storm surge has posed a growing threat to health and safety in the Lowcountry due to the impacts of climate change, drawing greater attention from conservation and sustainability groups. The USACE released its first draft of the Feasibility Report/Environmental Assessment in April 2020 and used public and agency feedback to optimize a tentatively selected plan, according to a Sept. 10 press release.
Some of the most significant changes to the plan since its inception include:
- Transitioning from assessment to an impact statement
- Decreasing the total estimated project cost from $1.75 billion to $1.1 billion
- Inclusion of living shorelines
- Removal of wave attenuator
- Optimized alignment of the storm surge wall, reducing the number of impacted wetlands from 111 to 35 acres
- Expanded environmental justice review
- Refined interior drainage analysis
There are three key features included in the optimized plan — a perimeter storm surge wall, nonstructural measures and natural and nature-based features.
The storm surge wall project includes the construction of a 12-foot wall along the perimeter of the peninsula strategically aligned to minimize impacts to existing wetland habitats, cultural resources and private property. To mitigate interior flooding related to the storm surge wall, preliminary interior hydrology analyses indicate the need for five temporary and permanent small-to-medium hydraulic pump stations.
Nonstructural measures are proposed to protect areas where the Corps determines a storm surge wall would be impractical, like residential areas or places with topographical constraints — Bridgeview Village and the Rosemont community are two such areas, according to the Corps plans. Nonstructural measures in the Corps plan include raising homes and flood-proofing existing buildings.
Natural and nature-based features would be constructed in some location to reduce coastal storm impacts to natural shorelines and other resources on the sea side of the wall. Living shoreline features would reduce erosion of existing wetland marsh while reducing scour at the proposed wall.
To submit a comment on the proposed projects:
- Complete the virtual comment form
- Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail comments to the Charleston District, Planning and Environmental Branch at 69A Hagood Ave., Charleston, S.C., 29403
- Call the voicemail line at (843) 329-8017
- Attend the virtual public meeting from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Oct. 5
Details for accessing the virtual meeting have not yet been released.
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