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SC NRCS and City of West Columbia Team Up to Repair Flood Damage

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SC NRCS and City of West Columbia Team Up to Repair Flood Damage
By Amy Overstreet, SC NRCS Outreach and Public Affairs Specialist

After many years of drought, South Carolina experienced its fair share of rain last spring and summer. Late July and early August storms produced torrential downpours. Heavy rain like this, in a short amount of time, can lead to drenched crops, wet soils, and runoff. When this happens, a portion of the precipitation seeps into the ground. The rest flows downhill as runoff. Excessive amounts of runoff can cause flooding and erosion.

In the case of one West Columbia home, flooding and erosion jeopardized a house, as well as the safety of the homeowners. Lack of a storm drainage system to handle rainwater transformed the road into a flowing river during heavy rains, ultimately creating a 35-foot cliff. The homeowners were concerned because their bedroom was right along the edge of that cliff. They looked to the City of West Columbia and the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) for assistance.

Utilizing a federal program designed to help protect lives and property threatened by sudden watershed impairments, the residents are sleeping much easier after an engineering project was completed to repair the erosion. The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, administered by NRCS, helps resolve imminent hazards to life and property caused by flooding and other natural disasters. EWP work must be sponsored by a public agency of the state, tribal, county, or city government. In the case of this project, the City of West Columbia stepped forward in support. “On behalf of the City Council and citizens of West Columbia, I want to express how thankful we are for the assistance from NRCS,” said West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens. NRCS provided construction cost share in the amount of 75 percent, while the City of West Columbia contributed the remainder. The project cost $222,000.

SC NRCS State Engineer Eric Fleming said “The EWP program was a perfect match for this situation in West Columbia, and because life and property were threatened by the erosion, we classified this project as an exigency, which meant we were able to secure funding from our national office quickly, and the work was implemented immediately."


Check out the link below for a news story regarding the project: