Horry County adjusts stormwater policies to reduce flooding

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – After historic flooding in 2015 and Hurricane Matthew last fall, Horry County officials are updating their stormwater policies.

Horry County has a high water table, which means even under normal conditions it’s difficult for inspectors to routinely check for any blockages. Stormwater management says they want to lift the pipes so they stay drier and are easier to inspect.

“A mess,” recalls Vera Marino, Cameron Village resident, of living through Hurricane Matthew. “A very big mess. Flooding, fish coming up, dead fish, eels.”

Marino lives in front of a retention pond that spilled water into the streets during the storm. A county watershed planner says this is not unusual during disasters.

“When we get major storms, you’re gonna get water in the streets. But hopefully not in homes,” says Dave Fuss, Watershed Planner for Horry County.

Fuss calls the water in the streets “nuisance flooding” and says the county approved changes to its stormwater rules to address it.

“We’ll be able to make some design changes that’ll make maintaining the ponds a little bit easier over the long term,” explains Fuss.

Marino says she thinks the problem is more than a nuisance.

“There’s seven foot gators in here,” she exclaims. “Six foot, five footers, and if the water comes up he’s coming too.”

Flooding in streets like Marino has experienced highlighted some of the problems with Horry County’s drainage system and new housing developments.

“You can’t keep building and leaving us with a mess,” argues Marino.

The problem is why county officials created stricter regulations for reviewing construction plans and issuing permits.

“The new rules will help to give them some confidence that any new developments going on around them won’t negatively impact them,” claims Fuss. “Any change would be helpful.”

The new plan requires a downstream analysis to ensure new developments don’t cause flooding. All new developments now must also be designed to treat and retain the runoff from 85% of storms that occur in an average year.