Sea Level Rise: Charleston Steps Up to the Challenge

21 Oct Sea Level Rise: Charleston Steps Up to the Challenge

Charleston steps up to challenge of flooding, sea level rise


The recent historic (1,000-year) siege of rain concurrent with extraordinarily high, astronomical (king) tides and the attendant flooding and community disruption makes timely a report on the city’s progress to address flooding as a result of rainfall and high tides. In addition to that, there is an accepted science that the sea level will continue to gradually rise (the sea level in Charleston has risen one foot in the last 100 years). I will discuss recent and ongoing efforts and how the future and sea level rise should be addressed.

Much of Calhoun Street was filled with stalled vehicles as flood waters rose Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 in Charleston. (Paul Zoeller/File)

Flooding has plagued Charleston since its founding. The city, recognizing that a comprehensive analysis of the challenge and that specific and concrete ways to address it were needed, employed engineers to develop a plan for drainage improvements. In 1984, we adopted the city’s first comprehensive drainage master plan. While the plan was adopted in 1984, each drainage solution has been designed to reflect current and future conditions. The plan has also led to the creation of revenue streams to help fund major drainage projects. Several have been completed and are in phases of completion or design.