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Editorial: Flooding fixes add up for Charleston

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Bridge Pointe town homes flooded (copy) (copy)

Bridge Pointe townhomes in West Ashley flooded so often they were eventually bought out with city and federal funds. The city is now considering what to do with the property, including turning it into a flood-resilient park. 

One of the most important lessons from the Dutch Dialogues is that you have to work with what you’ve got. That’s true whether you are a resident, a business or a government.

That commonsense logic went into the decision to bury more than 100 stormwater storage tanks beneath the parking lot for two new affordable housing apartments on Charleston’s East Side. Water will build up in the tanks and then move to the city’s drainage system. It’s a smart and unobtrusive way to handle stormwater for the Charleston Housing Authority’s Grace Homes project. Developers should consider similar strategies to handle stormwater on their sites to reduce the risk of flooding.

Another key takeaway from the Dutch Dialogues is the concept of “adding value.” The city has an opportunity to do that at the site of the flood-prone Bridge Pointe condominiums in West Ashley.

The 32 condos in the Church Creek basin were razed after repeatedly flooding. The city has discussed returning the area to its natural state, a wetland that would filter and hold excess flood waters. That would be a tremendous improvement. In addition to greatly enhancing water retention, a wetlands restoration project would help show residents how they can create their own rain gardens, making them part of the solution.

Some residents also see the area as a great spot for an amenity such as a park. That could include basketball courts or an amphitheater that collect water during heavy rains and drain slowly afterward.

Both the storage tanks and the proposals for the former condo site are notable because they represent pieces of an overall strategy to make Charleston more resilient. This kind of creative thinking is vital because the city does not have the estimated $2 billion it would take to mitigate flooding. Even if it did, it would take many years to address all of the city’s flood-prone areas, so using what’s available and attainable on individual projects makes sense.

These projects are just a start. A lot more work — and money — is needed to address flooding. But we are encouraged that both projects represent some of the key concepts gleaned from the Dutch Dialogues, which can help guide Charleston toward a drier, more secure future.

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