Flooding: Another Big Rock Issue for the Region

At the Charleston Metro Chamber, we focus on “big rock” or critical issues like talent, transportation and attainable housing. Driving solutions to those big challenges is our mission.

This year we’re spending more time on another urgent issue for the region – flooding.

Flooding is not a new issue for Charleston. The naturally deep harbor and navigable rivers that have defined our region, and that continue to drive key segments of our economy, have always demanded that we adapt to living with water.

But the frequency and severity of flooding events experienced over the past few years, coupled with sobering data on sea level rise, demands that we accelerate the pace of adaptation.

Adaptation certainly means investing in new infrastructure to protect people, homes and businesses from water intrusion. Several major flood mitigation projects are currently listed in our Infrastructure Priorities report and more will be added in the future.

Adaptation also means adjusting our public policies, better maintenance of our existing drainage system and, in some cases, accommodating additional water by altering our behavior.

Like all challenges, a multifaceted solution to flooding demands collaboration, prioritization and a lot of leadership. The business community is a critical stakeholder and the Charleston Metro Chamber is at the table.

I serve on Governor McMaster’s newly formed South Carolina Floodwater Commission as a co-chair of the Economic Development Task Force. The Commission’s first meeting was earlier this month at Charles Towne Landing. I am optimistic that this influential group of state and local elected officials, business and non-profit leaders, engineers and academics assembled by the Governor will identify and implement short-term and long-term recommendations to alleviate and mitigate flood impacts. Expect to see episodic updates on the Commission’s work throughout the year.

Additionally, Ian Scott from our Government Relations team serves on the City of Charleston’s Sustainability and Resiliency Advisory Committee. That group is currently working on a flooding and sea level rise strategy for the city.

To help guide our engagement on these groups and with other flooding-related initiatives in the region, the Chamber’s Infrastructure Vision Committee, chaired by Barry Whalen of HLA, Inc., is hard at work developing a comprehensive policy statement on flooding. We expect to have committee recommendations ready for review by the Board of Directors later this spring.

The Charleston Metro Chamber is focused on driving solutions to critical issues facing our region, and flooding is a big one that will demand our focus for years to come.

I hope you’ve registered for the 28th Annual Economic Outlook Conference on Tuesday, February 26. We will be sharing a detailed regional forecast that looks out over the next 12 – 18 months and looking at how we can address other regional challenges.

Bryan Derreberry,
President and CEO

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