Kershaw and Fairfield Counties have partnered to explore the potential to reduce the base flood elevations (BFE’s) for Lake Wateree. A Phase I Flood Study was funded by the two counties and was recently delivered by ESP Associates, the engineering firm selected to perform the analyses.

A core team of the two county managers, Vic Carpenter and Milton Pope, the Kershaw County Director of Planning and Zoning, Carolyn Hammond, City of Camden Planner, Shawn Putnam, and representatives of Lake Wateree Association, Gary Faulkenberry, and WHOA, Milt Marley, had previously selected ESP as the best qualified firm to perform the analyses. This group met November 17th to review the Phase I results and discuss the path forward.

Phase I was to analyze data sources and determine the reasonableness of the Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) 1% annual chance (i.e. “100-year”) base flood elevations (BFE’s) along Lake Wateree. This study was initiated by the two counties as a result of your lake teams expressing citizens’ concerns over changes in flood insurance cost that elevated the question of the correctness of the BFE’s. The BFE’s and flood mapping determine if an individual or business is required to have the flood insurance that has experienced sharp increases in premiums in recent years.
The hydraulic and hydrologic analyses entailed the evaluation of several different methodologies including gage analysis, model development, statistical analysis, etc. The results of the analyses indicate that the published flows and associated BFE’s that are currently used for regulatory floodplain mapping appear to be overly conservative (i.e. high). The study indicates that peak flows may be more than twice what is appropriate, and the BFE’s along the lake may potentially be 5-9 feet higher than is appropriate—depending on the location along the lake. Obviously this is very exciting news for all concerned.

Provided these results can be confirmed in a Phase II study, this would lead to the counties (through ESP Associates) submitting an application to FEMA and SCDNR to formally revise the flows, BFE’s, and issue new maps with new flood plain boundaries. This has the potential to (1) remove many homes and buildings from the flood plain and therefore no longer have the requirement for flood insurance premiums, (2) reduce flood insurance premiums for properties remaining in the floodplain, and (3) reduce future construction costs by not having to meet floodplain construction requirements.

The core team was excited to review the results from Phase I and Kershaw and Fairfield Counties have authorized ESP to continue with the Phase II scope. We will keep you advised on further updates as appropriate. Results are expected in the IQ of 2015. The two counties and the two lake teams will partner on funding for Phase II of the initiative.

Everyone around the lake should be very appreciative of our county leaders who listened to the issue, took the time to understand the issue, and then committed time and funding to pursue this critically important initiative. We often hear, “What do I get for the high taxes I pay on the lake”? This is an excellent example of how we have received value back from our taxes to the county.

And to lake team members of LWA and WHOA who also will often ask “What is the lake team doing for me”? This is also an excellent example of what can be accomplished with your support – both your dues and your personal involvement. This effort would not be happening today if not for the initiative of your two lake teams in exploring the possibilities of how to make this happen for the benefit of all on the lake. I hope this is a strong incentive for those not a part of either LWA or WHOA to join immediately.