In the lowcountry, we are particularly vulnerable to flooding given the low topography, the rise in sea level and increased frequency and intensity of rain events that have become increasingly noticeable. Closer to home, The Post & Courier recently recounted flooding issues on Johns Island. City and County staff are working to better plan and manage for flooding risks; but, to be truly effective, they are going to need a strong technical basis for restricting the location and types of development to reduce flooding hazards.
The JICA team has been:
1. Working closely with local, state, and federal agencies and representatives to better understand the issues, obstacles, and solutions to flood management, including:
a. Educating Council members on flooding issues
b. Advocating for change
c. Participating in the development of the City of Charleston’s Stormwater Standards Manual
2. Collaborating with local flooding victims and advocacy groups to develop a unified effort and request of our local governments, including partnerships with Fix Flooding First, the Preservation Society of Charleston, and Save James Island.
From our perspective, specific solutions to flooding include:
Integrating zoning, planning, and stormwater engineering to assure that we evaluate the ability of the land to support uses before they are planned and permitted.
Identifying key areas that are at higher risk for flooding, which should be inclusive of stormwater runoff and storm surge, and managing to protect floodplains: in particular, discouraging certain building practices which permanently alter floodplain function and puts residents at increased risk for flooding (i.e., the use of fill and concrete slab foundations in the natural floodplain).
Managing stormwater and flooding at the scale of drainage basins: Stormwater and floodplain regulations and management can no longer be applied generally across the landscape under a broad suite of regulations. Instead, stormwater and floodplain management should be defined at the basin level to address the unique needs of each area that define each individual basin. Management planning should: a. Assess our existing drainage infrastructure to determine its current effectiveness and ability to handle future needs b. Encourage Low Impact Development (LID) where possible to address stormwater onsite to reduce impacts to neighboring downstream property and infrastructure c. Develop local ordinances to protect isolated wetlands
Incorporate climate change scenarios into all aspects of development planning (i.e., sea level rise and increase in intensity and frequency of rainfall and tropical storms).
It should go without saying, that all of these needs should be supported by adequate staffing and resources to assure successful implementation of the management needed to protect the residents from flooding hazards moving forward.