By Emma Woodham for The Island Eye News
Photos by Corrine Enright
Drainage issues have plagued the Isle of Palms for years, but for island resident Corinne Enright, the problem has begun to affect her quality of life.
“The lack of drainage on my street recently required me to drive the three-hundred feet just to get to the bus stop,” Enright said.
For that last ten months, Enright has been attempting to find out who is responsible for addressing the problem with drainage on Hartnett Blvd. where she has lived for almost the last decade, but to no avail. According to Enright, she has reached out to Isle of Palms’ Public Works, the Public Works Commission, the City Administrator, the Planning Department along with Charleston County and the SCDOT, but has received very little response from anyone.
“A few members of the council responded to me, but the mayor didn’t, and I was surprised by that,” Enright said.
Enright had hoped that some actions would be taken before hurricane season, but says it doesn’t even take a major rainstorm to flood the street near her house. Just a quick, thirty-minute shower can leave water standing on the street and in her yard for days afterwards. All the standing water prevents her and her children from riding their bikes or even spending time outside in their yard.
One proposed solution for the drainage issues was the clearing of ditches in many areas where they have been covered up over time with new construction debris, but Enright and other residents are not convinced that this will solve the issue. Instead, she would like to see a more thorough investigation of the drainage system done before money is spent to clear the ditches. She also feels that someone in city administration needs to be the point person for the drainage issues—a person whose sole job is to work on problem areas on the island, make contacts with the SCDOT to help resolve issues, and make sure all the drains are cleared and flowing smoothly. If someone qualified to inspect the issues assured her that opening the ditches would solve the issues, Enright would accept that.
“If I knew opening the ditches would fix things and an engineer or someone qualified told me the best way to keep water off the street and to drain water out of the yard would be to open the ditches, I think my husband and I would accept that,” Enright said.
Enright has been urged to express her opinion to City Council, but as a working mother, she often finds herself unable to attend the scheduled meetings. Even if she was able to attend and offer her opinion, she isn’t sure that speaking up during the meetings would really accomplish anything.
“A lot of residents get frustrated at the meetings. They talk for a few minutes, the council listens, and that’s it.”
Enright wants these drainage issues to be resolved soon, but Mayor Dick Cronin says that most of the roads on Isle of Palms are controlled by the SCDOT. He added that a swale ditch existed in the area at some point, but was covered up.
“The recommendation for improving drainage in that area was to re-open the swale ditch; however, those in the neighborhood expressed dissatisfaction with that solution,” Cronin said via email.
Mayor Cronin reiterated that drainage is an issue being addressed by Public Works and that the second phase of a major drainage project is underway in an effort to remove storm water from the island.
Enright insists that the problems have only gotten worse over time and believes that they will continue to worsen until a solution is found. She believes that rising tides, warmer waters, and stronger storms are causing the groundwater levels to rise. While she’s aware that the city doesn’t want to impose any financial burden on the citizens of Isle of Palms, Enright says she and her husband are so desperate to have these drainage issues fixed that they would even be willing to pay more in taxes. “As a community, we need to look at this as a quality of life issue.”
Emails regarding the drainage problems on Harnett Blvd were sent to Councilmen Bettelli and Councilman Ward, both of whom live on the same street according to the IOP City website, but no response was received.