Published in Island Eye News (September 23, 2016)
Dear Island Neighbors,
Since the last appearance of this column, we’ve spent a little time with Hermine and Julia. Neither one was much of a fun date, but if this is as bad as it gets this hurricane season, I’ll be happy. Here’s hoping for nothing worse!
And speaking of things that might relate to flooding, we are saving the best for last: some possibly very good news for your flood insurance premiums! But first…
CUE UP THE THEME FOR “THE JEFFERSONS”
In just a few weeks, there will be scads of boxes eagerly packed at our temporary Town Hall…if by “temporary” you mean more than five years, and if by “Town Hall” you mean old, rundown trailers. We are all looking forward to moving on up to the (south) east side of those quarters, to the new Town Hall, the weekend of October 8-9.
The building has been designed and built with value-engineering in mind, in an effort to give our residents and taxpayers the best building for their buck, focusing on durability and efficiency, and putting the nicest touches where we greet the public. But be assured that our dedicated and talented Town staff will feel like they are now serving you from “deeluxe” Work spaces in the sky, compared to what they have had to deal with heretofore.
The trailers were a necessary, albeit spartan and hurried, solution to the need to vacate the former Town Hall building when it developed mold and other problems. Since then, our committed Town staff have served our residents from these limited quarters that were never designed for this purpose and that have been wearing out even as they were used (think floor tiles popping up under your desk chair). So when you encounter any of our Town office staff and our Police force, please thank them for their commitment in the face of these challenges.
And thanks to all of YOU for your patience in interacting with our Town offices and attending our Town meetings in these humble quarters. We really do have dedicated, patient and engaged citizens!
Here’s how the move should affect you: Not much…as long as you remember to head for the new digs starting on Monday, October 10. Trailers will be open as usual the Friday before that. Phone and computer services will be transferred over the weekend, so if you wish to send emails or voice mails during that time, it may be prudent to resend them Monday or Tuesday. However, remember that all police and fire calls are handled by the Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center, and relayed to our first responders via radio, so they will not be affected. As always, for emergencies call 911, and for non-emergency issues call (843) 743 7200.
And in case you are curious, the Mayor’s Office will have the same square footage it currently has: zero. But finally there will be some modest conference room space to meet with citizens without interruptions!
Stay tuned for word of our official ribbon-cutting once the trailers are gone and the parking lot finished!
KEEPING STORM WATER OUT OF OUR SEWER SYSTEM
“Stormwater” and “wastewater” sound alike and the differences aren’t something we usually think about. But the former term refers to the water that results from rain, tidal flooding and resulting rise in ground water, while the latter term indicates the stuff that goes down our toilets, bathtubs, showers, sinks, etc.
You don’t want them to meet, and on a good day, they don’t. But during a very rainy spell, they can. Heavy rain, tidal flooding and resulting rising ground water tables can invade sewer (wastewater) mains, doubling or tripling the amount of liquid that the sewer plant receives.
That’s a problem on many counts, and one that is shared with many, many municipalities across the country. Traditionally, the solution has been to dig up the old, leaky pipes and replace them with new pipes.
Greg Gress, our Water and Sewer Department manager, has recently received national recognition for implementing a less costly, less disruptive solution on the Island. A new issue of the trade journal Trenchless Technology (http://bit.ly/SIW-SGROUTPROJECT) highlights the Town’s use of an alternative technology, called “grouting”, which refers to injecting grout into the leaking joints and defects from inside the sewer mains to keep the stormwater and groundwater out. The equipment travels the interior of the pipes, so little digging or pipe replacement is required unless there are sections that are beyond grouting.
The first phase of our project sealed more than 7 miles of sewer mains with this technology. The result: the amount of stormwater and groundwater getting into the sewer system was reduced by 46%!
FOUR WORDS YOU WOULDN’T EXPECT TO SEE TOGETHER: GOOD NEWS FROM FEMA!
Our Building Official and Flood Plain Manager, Randy Robinson, has informed us that FEMA has released preliminary new flood maps for public review. These are the maps that indicate which flood risk category any property is in. Randy says that most properties on the Island will find themselves in a lower-risk category than they are currently in, meaning that in a year or so when the maps take effect, their premiums should drop noticeably. In the near future, FEMA will hold public meetings in the area to present the maps to the community and to answer questions concerning the maps and insurance rates. Access the preliminary maps, flood plain news and resources through our Town’s website (http://bit.ly/SIFLOODPLAINNEWS)
And remember that about a year ago, thanks to Randy’s hard work, the Town’s overall community rating was moved to a more favorable category, which resulted in a 20% reduction in premiums.
See you around the Island
Cell: 843 670 9266