Columbia, SC (WLTX) The city of Columbia and Richland County say recent projects helped prevent flooding and sanitation issues the last month as two major storms have hit South Carolina.
The floods of 2015 highlighted issues with water management programs in the city and county that they’ve been working to fix since.
This week, Columbia and Richland County highlighted projects from the last several years they said helped prevent significant flooding issues as Florence and Michael dumped rain for days.
Assistant City Manager Clint Shealy said changes to waste water infrastructure made a difference.
“Those investments are really paying off, we pointed out [Thursday], we were quickly able to pinpoint four different projects that we invested over a hundred million dollars in the last five years and that saved us from spilling upwards of 20 million gallons of waste water to the environment,” Shealy added.
Columbia Water Director of Utilities Joey Jaco said those changes helped prevent a busy day from becoming a disaster.
“[Thursday], our flows tripled within a six hour period,” Jaco explained, saying regular capacity of 40 million gallons a day jumped to 120 million.
Projects from the last several years, including projects started before 2015, like an improved West Columbia pump station, storage tanks along the Saluda River, wider pipes along Crane Creek and other pump improvements made a difference.
“We saw a real benefit this year, in a reduction in sanitary sewer overflew volume, even during these heavy storms,” Shealy said.
He added a reduction in sewer overflow improves public health and the environment.
Richland County Councilman Jim Manning said in a press conference Wednesday that those weren’t the only fixes.
“A lot of the damns that broke [in 2015] were along Gills Creek that went up through Richland County district 5, 6 and 8, those damns have been rebuilt. They were old dams not up to standards; the new dams are,” Manning said.
City officials said money collected from increased stormwater fees, put in place after the 2015 floods, will fund more than 10 stormwater infrastructure improvement projects over the next three to five years.
All told, it’s millions of dollars in projects to keep Columbia from going underwater.