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ABSTRACT

The built environment of peninsular Charleston, South Carolina, has been strongly influenced by the ethos of architectural preservation. However, increased frequency of storm and tide-related flooding has been affecting property and public services, and threatens human and environmental health. Management processes for excess water in this urban area must adapt to the challenges resulting from historic development including the fill of tidal creek systems, sea-level rise, and the influence of large storm events on drainage infrastructure. The City of Charleston has adopted several strategies to manage flooding and encourage progressive development. Large-scale drainage improvement projects capitalize on a geologic framework that provides for deep tunnel excavation and drainage system construction. Novel approaches in zoning codes provide some incentives for land owners to use lower impact design techniques in return for more flexible design standards. This field tour will guide participants through this historic city, and will provide a glimpse of the geologic setting, development history, and environmental pressures that have compelled the city’s proactive stormwater management.

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, urban stormwater management focused on creating and maintaining drainage infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) provides regulatory oversight and guidance to municipalities on point sources and nonpoint sources of water-based pollution to receiving water bodies; stormwater is one of several vectors of concern (https://www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-stormwater-program). Within the past few decades, the concepts of green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) have garnered more attention because of various benefits to reducing stormwater runoff, and related water quality impairments through mimicking natural biogeochemical processes (Ellis et al., 2014). The USEPA as well as state and local government agencies have promoted GI and LID practices to the public (real estate developers and landowners) through various incentives. Architectural review committees are addressing the desire for landowners to implement GI and LID techniques where restrictions or covenants may legally prevent such practices. This field trip in historic Charleston, South Carolina, will provide a context for historic and modern-day flood concerns on the peninsula, as well as highlight solutions for increasing community resilience to flood-waters and stormwater runoff through the lens of architectural and historical preservation.

A website has been created as a supplement for this 2019 field trip; see https://scgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=7645e6ef78514c60b43610865c4502e4.

ROAD LOG

See Figure 1 for a map of field-trip stops.

Figure 1.

Map of Charleston peninsula and location of stops for the field trip. See field-guide text for latitude/longitude coordinates and descriptions.

Figure 1.

Map of Charleston peninsula and location of stops for the field trip. See field-guide text for latitude/longitude coordinates and descriptions.

Stop 1: Joe Riley Waterfront Park, Intersection of Boyces Wharf and Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (Coordinates: 32.778916° N, 79.925479° W)

Participants will begin the field trip with a panoramic view of the Charleston Harbor (Fig. 2). The Charleston peninsular area is dominated by Pleistocene- to modern-age barrier-island quartz sand facies, tidal-marsh organic-rich clay and sand deposits, and artificial fill and a series of small, tidal marsh creek systems (Weems et al., 2014). Peninsular Charleston is located between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, tidal systems with relatively small natural watersheds. These river basins cumulatively drain 1737 square miles of forested lands, wetland and open water, and an expanding footprint of urban and suburban developed landscapes (SCDHEC, 2018). The Charleston Harbor, at the mouth of the Cooper River, is managed to provide for a large port system, considered the seventh highest U.S. port for ocean imports (Descartes, 2018). The port supports foreign and domestic container services, as well as an evolving tourism industry that serves as a port of call for multiple cruise lines.

Figure 2.

Geologic map of Charleston peninsula (Weems et al., 2014; see reference for descriptions of geologic units). (Continued on facing page.)

Figure 2.

Geologic map of Charleston peninsula (Weems et al., 2014; see reference for descriptions of geologic units). (Continued on facing page.)

Figure 2.

Geologic map units and correlations for the Coastal Plain province in the Charleston, South Carolina, region.

Figure 2.

Geologic map units and correlations for the Coastal Plain province in the Charleston, South Carolina, region.

Stop 2: Water Street and Church Street, 44 Church Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (Coordinates: 32.773098° N, 79.929299° W)

At the next stop, participants will explore the historic area of Charleston. Initial development in the peninsula occurred along the high land running down the “spine” of the city. Historically, development pressures resulted in the fill of many low-lying creek systems, allowing for community expansion. Other modifications to creek systems included the creation of impoundments, through damming, to support rice and sawmill industries. These types of modifications are no more evident than at historic Water Street, now a paved and cobblestoned residential road. This was formerly a confluence of two small tidal creeks, Major Daniels and Vanderhorst Creeks, which bisected the southerly tip of the peninsula (Fig. 3). Historic maps of the Charleston peninsula (Figs. 3 and 4) show city development between 1780 and 1890, and the location of former tidal creek systems that were subsequently filled as growth progressed. At this stop, participants can view examples of historic development and “made land” (fill) practices that, paired with Charleston’s low-lying topography and the influence of sea-level rise, have contributed to increased frequency of flooding concerns throughout the peninsula. Compression of fill material, including decomposition of organic material, leads to slumping and needed maintenance of infrastructure. Since 1995, the incidence of “sunny day” flooding from tides has increased dramatically from ~14 days per year to 50 days in 2016 (Sweet et al., 2017). This historical context sets the stage for Stops 3 and 4, where participants will explore how municipalities and builders in the Charleston region are working to manage flooding and prepare for future challenges posed by climate change.

Figure 3.

This 1780 map of Charleston (Charles-Town, Capitale de la Caroline) shows historic boundaries of the city and proximity to tidal creek systems. Subsequent maps from the 1800s no longer depict these creek systems due to their fill and overlying development. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 3.

This 1780 map of Charleston (Charles-Town, Capitale de la Caroline) shows historic boundaries of the city and proximity to tidal creek systems. Subsequent maps from the 1800s no longer depict these creek systems due to their fill and overlying development. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 4.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Drie, 1872). By 1890, much of peninsular Charleston had been developed, resulting in the fill of creek and marsh habitat. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 4.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Drie, 1872). By 1890, much of peninsular Charleston had been developed, resulting in the fill of creek and marsh habitat. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Stop 3: Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside Street, Charleston, SC 29401 (Coordinates: 32.788897° N, 79.925135° W)

At the third stop, participants will visit the site of the Charleston Maritime Center, where a pump station is located and stormwater outfalls to the Cooper River as part of the City of Charleston’s Market Street Drainage Improvement Project. Historic Market Street, built on a former tidal creek bed, is a tourism focal point of the city and approximately one kilometer south of the Maritime Center. Locally, Market Street is also known as a location of flooding during storm events. Beginning in 2006, the City of Charleston began a multi-phase project to improve drainage in and around the Market Street basin. Construction has included a 50-m-deep tunnel system in the Ashley Formation, a wet well, and a pump station, which discharges water to the Charleston Harbor near the Charleston Maritime Center (Fig. 5). A 3.5-m-diameter stormwater tunnel lies within the silty-sand to silty-clay calcareous Ashley Formation (locally referred to as “Cooper Marl” [Malde, 1959]) of early Oligocene age that is massive and smooth-textured, allowing for relatively safe tunnel construction. Future phases of the Market Street project include improvements for a redesigned surface drainage system and streetscape project. More information on the Market Street Drainage Improvement Project can be found on the City of Charleston’s website (https://www.charleston-sc.gov/index.aspx?nid=591; accessed 18 January 2019).

Figure 5.

The outfall for the Market Street drainage basin discharges to the Charleston Harbor at the Charleston Maritime Center. A large pump station is used to assist in stormwater management for the basin and has the capability to pump more than 120,000 gallons of water per minute.

Figure 5.

The outfall for the Market Street drainage basin discharges to the Charleston Harbor at the Charleston Maritime Center. A large pump station is used to assist in stormwater management for the basin and has the capability to pump more than 120,000 gallons of water per minute.

Stop 4: The Workshop, 1505 Monrovia Street, Charleston, SC 29405 (Coordinates: 32.817366° N, 79.952053° W)

The last stop on the field trip is a publicly accessible redevelopment project that is part of the City of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula Initiative. This project and the zoning board seek to promote the use of sustainable development practices, including low impact development (LID) for stormwater management, through development incentives. The Workshop, a former industrial site, has incorporated permeable pavement and multiple bioretention cells into site design. Design and city staff worked collaboratively to overcome barriers for LID use, including concerns for incorporation of infiltration practices in industry-related remnant soil contaminant sites (Figs. 6 and 7). The Workshop provides a case study of the efforts of the city to encourage progressive design practices to meet the evolving challenges of stormwater management in Charleston.

Figure 6.

The Workshop, at 1505 Monrovia Street, is a redevelopment project that lies within the City of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula zoning district. Several bioretention cells have been incorporated into the site. While these practices are designed to promote infiltration of stormwater, one of the cells has been modified and lined in order to mitigate the impact of infiltration on relic industry-related contaminated soils.

Figure 6.

The Workshop, at 1505 Monrovia Street, is a redevelopment project that lies within the City of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula zoning district. Several bioretention cells have been incorporated into the site. While these practices are designed to promote infiltration of stormwater, one of the cells has been modified and lined in order to mitigate the impact of infiltration on relic industry-related contaminated soils.

Figure 7.

View of a bioretention cell at the Workshop during a rainstorm on 14 December 2018. Approximately 30 mm of rain had fallen at the time the photo was taken (9:15 a.m.).

Figure 7.

View of a bioretention cell at the Workshop during a rainstorm on 14 December 2018. Approximately 30 mm of rain had fallen at the time the photo was taken (9:15 a.m.).

CONCLUSION

This field trip highlights the complex nature of stormwater management in the urban setting of historic peninsular Charleston, South Carolina. Examples of projects, such as the Market Street Drainage Improvement Project and The Workshop, showcase some of the mitigation approaches that include traditional, large-scale engineering efforts, as well as novel low-impact development building practices that are required to meet the challenges of tourism, economic, and climate change in this growing coastal city.

REFERENCES CITED

Charles-Town
,
Capitale de la Caroline [1780, n.p.], Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/gm71002162/.
Descartes
,
2018
,
U.S. Port Report: The Top 20 U.S. Ocean Ports by Import Volume
,
15
p.; http://www.datamyne.com (accessed January 2019).
Drie
,
C.N.
[
1872
, n.p.],
Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/75696567/.
Ellis
,
K.
,
Berg
,
C.
,
Caraco
,
D.
,
Drescher
,
S.
,
Hoffmann
,
G.
,
Keppler
,
B.
,
LaRocco
,
M.
, and
Turner
,
A.
,
2014
,
Low Impact Development in Coastal South Carolina: A Planning and Design Guide: ACE Basin and North Inlet–Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves
,
462
p.; http://www.northinlet.sc.edu/LID.
Malde
,
H.
,
1959
,
Geology of the Charleston Phosphate Area, South Carolina: A Detailed Study of the Area from Which Phosphate Rock Was First Produced in This Country
:
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1079
 :
Washington, D.C
.,
U.S. Government Printing Office
,
105
p.; https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1079/report.pdf.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)
,
2018
,
Watershed Assessments: Ashley/Cooper Rivers: Government report
, available at https://www.scdhec.gov/watershed-assessments.
Sweet
,
W.
,
Marra
,
J.
, and
Dusek
,
G.
,
2017
,
National Climate Report—2016 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding and a 2017 Outlook. Supplement to State of the Climate: National Overview for May 2017
; https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2017/05/supplemental/page-1.
Weems
,
R.E.
,
Lewis
,
W.C.
, and
Lemon
,
E.M.
, Jr.
,
2014
,
Surficial Geologic Map of the Charleston Region, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, and Georgetown Counties, South Carolina
:
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1030, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000
 , https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20131030.

REFERENCES CITED

Charles-Town
,
Capitale de la Caroline [1780, n.p.], Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/gm71002162/.
Descartes
,
2018
,
U.S. Port Report: The Top 20 U.S. Ocean Ports by Import Volume
,
15
p.; http://www.datamyne.com (accessed January 2019).
Drie
,
C.N.
[
1872
, n.p.],
Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/75696567/.
Ellis
,
K.
,
Berg
,
C.
,
Caraco
,
D.
,
Drescher
,
S.
,
Hoffmann
,
G.
,
Keppler
,
B.
,
LaRocco
,
M.
, and
Turner
,
A.
,
2014
,
Low Impact Development in Coastal South Carolina: A Planning and Design Guide: ACE Basin and North Inlet–Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves
,
462
p.; http://www.northinlet.sc.edu/LID.
Malde
,
H.
,
1959
,
Geology of the Charleston Phosphate Area, South Carolina: A Detailed Study of the Area from Which Phosphate Rock Was First Produced in This Country
:
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1079
 :
Washington, D.C
.,
U.S. Government Printing Office
,
105
p.; https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1079/report.pdf.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)
,
2018
,
Watershed Assessments: Ashley/Cooper Rivers: Government report
, available at https://www.scdhec.gov/watershed-assessments.
Sweet
,
W.
,
Marra
,
J.
, and
Dusek
,
G.
,
2017
,
National Climate Report—2016 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding and a 2017 Outlook. Supplement to State of the Climate: National Overview for May 2017
; https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2017/05/supplemental/page-1.
Weems
,
R.E.
,
Lewis
,
W.C.
, and
Lemon
,
E.M.
, Jr.
,
2014
,
Surficial Geologic Map of the Charleston Region, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, and Georgetown Counties, South Carolina
:
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1030, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000
 , https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20131030.

Figures & Tables

Figure 1.

Map of Charleston peninsula and location of stops for the field trip. See field-guide text for latitude/longitude coordinates and descriptions.

Figure 1.

Map of Charleston peninsula and location of stops for the field trip. See field-guide text for latitude/longitude coordinates and descriptions.

Figure 2.

Geologic map of Charleston peninsula (Weems et al., 2014; see reference for descriptions of geologic units). (Continued on facing page.)

Figure 2.

Geologic map of Charleston peninsula (Weems et al., 2014; see reference for descriptions of geologic units). (Continued on facing page.)

Figure 2.

Geologic map units and correlations for the Coastal Plain province in the Charleston, South Carolina, region.

Figure 2.

Geologic map units and correlations for the Coastal Plain province in the Charleston, South Carolina, region.

Figure 3.

This 1780 map of Charleston (Charles-Town, Capitale de la Caroline) shows historic boundaries of the city and proximity to tidal creek systems. Subsequent maps from the 1800s no longer depict these creek systems due to their fill and overlying development. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 3.

This 1780 map of Charleston (Charles-Town, Capitale de la Caroline) shows historic boundaries of the city and proximity to tidal creek systems. Subsequent maps from the 1800s no longer depict these creek systems due to their fill and overlying development. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 4.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Drie, 1872). By 1890, much of peninsular Charleston had been developed, resulting in the fill of creek and marsh habitat. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 4.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Drie, 1872). By 1890, much of peninsular Charleston had been developed, resulting in the fill of creek and marsh habitat. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Figure 5.

The outfall for the Market Street drainage basin discharges to the Charleston Harbor at the Charleston Maritime Center. A large pump station is used to assist in stormwater management for the basin and has the capability to pump more than 120,000 gallons of water per minute.

Figure 5.

The outfall for the Market Street drainage basin discharges to the Charleston Harbor at the Charleston Maritime Center. A large pump station is used to assist in stormwater management for the basin and has the capability to pump more than 120,000 gallons of water per minute.

Figure 6.

The Workshop, at 1505 Monrovia Street, is a redevelopment project that lies within the City of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula zoning district. Several bioretention cells have been incorporated into the site. While these practices are designed to promote infiltration of stormwater, one of the cells has been modified and lined in order to mitigate the impact of infiltration on relic industry-related contaminated soils.

Figure 6.

The Workshop, at 1505 Monrovia Street, is a redevelopment project that lies within the City of Charleston’s Upper Peninsula zoning district. Several bioretention cells have been incorporated into the site. While these practices are designed to promote infiltration of stormwater, one of the cells has been modified and lined in order to mitigate the impact of infiltration on relic industry-related contaminated soils.

Figure 7.

View of a bioretention cell at the Workshop during a rainstorm on 14 December 2018. Approximately 30 mm of rain had fallen at the time the photo was taken (9:15 a.m.).

Figure 7.

View of a bioretention cell at the Workshop during a rainstorm on 14 December 2018. Approximately 30 mm of rain had fallen at the time the photo was taken (9:15 a.m.).

Contents

References

REFERENCES CITED

Charles-Town
,
Capitale de la Caroline [1780, n.p.], Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/gm71002162/.
Descartes
,
2018
,
U.S. Port Report: The Top 20 U.S. Ocean Ports by Import Volume
,
15
p.; http://www.datamyne.com (accessed January 2019).
Drie
,
C.N.
[
1872
, n.p.],
Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/75696567/.
Ellis
,
K.
,
Berg
,
C.
,
Caraco
,
D.
,
Drescher
,
S.
,
Hoffmann
,
G.
,
Keppler
,
B.
,
LaRocco
,
M.
, and
Turner
,
A.
,
2014
,
Low Impact Development in Coastal South Carolina: A Planning and Design Guide: ACE Basin and North Inlet–Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves
,
462
p.; http://www.northinlet.sc.edu/LID.
Malde
,
H.
,
1959
,
Geology of the Charleston Phosphate Area, South Carolina: A Detailed Study of the Area from Which Phosphate Rock Was First Produced in This Country
:
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1079
 :
Washington, D.C
.,
U.S. Government Printing Office
,
105
p.; https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1079/report.pdf.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)
,
2018
,
Watershed Assessments: Ashley/Cooper Rivers: Government report
, available at https://www.scdhec.gov/watershed-assessments.
Sweet
,
W.
,
Marra
,
J.
, and
Dusek
,
G.
,
2017
,
National Climate Report—2016 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding and a 2017 Outlook. Supplement to State of the Climate: National Overview for May 2017
; https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2017/05/supplemental/page-1.
Weems
,
R.E.
,
Lewis
,
W.C.
, and
Lemon
,
E.M.
, Jr.
,
2014
,
Surficial Geologic Map of the Charleston Region, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, and Georgetown Counties, South Carolina
:
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1030, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000
 , https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20131030.

REFERENCES CITED

Charles-Town
,
Capitale de la Caroline [1780, n.p.], Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/gm71002162/.
Descartes
,
2018
,
U.S. Port Report: The Top 20 U.S. Ocean Ports by Import Volume
,
15
p.; http://www.datamyne.com (accessed January 2019).
Drie
,
C.N.
[
1872
, n.p.],
Bird’s Eye View of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, Map: Retrieved from the Library of Congress
, www.loc.gov/item/75696567/.
Ellis
,
K.
,
Berg
,
C.
,
Caraco
,
D.
,
Drescher
,
S.
,
Hoffmann
,
G.
,
Keppler
,
B.
,
LaRocco
,
M.
, and
Turner
,
A.
,
2014
,
Low Impact Development in Coastal South Carolina: A Planning and Design Guide: ACE Basin and North Inlet–Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves
,
462
p.; http://www.northinlet.sc.edu/LID.
Malde
,
H.
,
1959
,
Geology of the Charleston Phosphate Area, South Carolina: A Detailed Study of the Area from Which Phosphate Rock Was First Produced in This Country
:
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1079
 :
Washington, D.C
.,
U.S. Government Printing Office
,
105
p.; https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1079/report.pdf.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)
,
2018
,
Watershed Assessments: Ashley/Cooper Rivers: Government report
, available at https://www.scdhec.gov/watershed-assessments.
Sweet
,
W.
,
Marra
,
J.
, and
Dusek
,
G.
,
2017
,
National Climate Report—2016 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding and a 2017 Outlook. Supplement to State of the Climate: National Overview for May 2017
; https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2017/05/supplemental/page-1.
Weems
,
R.E.
,
Lewis
,
W.C.
, and
Lemon
,
E.M.
, Jr.
,
2014
,
Surficial Geologic Map of the Charleston Region, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, and Georgetown Counties, South Carolina
:
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1030, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000
 , https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20131030.

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