More drainage relief could be coming to Columbus County in the near future, after commissioners approved a $906,000 grant Monday for the Soil and Water Conservation Service.
“We’re really grateful to have these resources made available,” Edward Davis of the SWCS said.
Davis began applying for grants from, state and federal sources after devastating flooding form Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Troublespots were identified across the county, Davis said, and work began on a comprehensive drainage plan for the entire county. More than $1.2 million has already been invested in county waterways, using funding from a variety of sources, Davis said.
“We appreciate the help of all our elected officials,” Davis said. “From the local level on up through the legislature and the congressman’s office, we have tried to leave no stone unturned.”
Outfalls – waterways that carry stormwater away from upstream areas – were among the first places to see improvements. With nowhere to go downstream, Davis explained, water from across the county simply floods communities in other areas.
“The water has to have somewhere to go,” he said. “Folks want to know why we aren’t doing more right in Whiteville, or elsewhere. It’s because that water has to have somewhere to go when it leaves here.’
Livingston Creek has also been identified as a major problem, Davis said, especially as growth from New Hanover and Brunswick counties spread up the 74-76 corridor. When Livingston Creek overflowed due to heavy rains and blockages during Hurricane Florence, water rose past the rooftops of businesses and residences along Old Stage Road (N.C. 87). While Florence was an unusual rain event, Davis said improving drainage there and upstream near Swimming Hole Road and toward Prosper will alleviate some flooding problems.
The Waccamaw has continued to be a major focus for improvements, Davis said, since it drains much of the county. The Waccamaw and Lumber rivers will see some sediment removal to help reduce the number of areas snags can catch and build natural blockages.
Bid packages are available on the SCWS website, Davis said. He hopes work will begin in September.