Conway leaders hear about potential ‘nature-based’ flooding mitigation plan

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A new nature-based flooding mitigation plan could be on its way to the Crabtree Swamp area of Conway.

Robinson Design Engineers and The Nature Conservatory of South Carolina presented the plan to Conway City Council last week.

The plan will focus on the area of Trinity United Methodist Church near the Crabtree Canal; an area one official with the Nature Conservatory says has no stormwater storage whatsoever.

“Crabtree swamp had always been a part of the conversation since the beginning, but it’s so big and we knew the Army Core of Engineers had the interest to go back in and partner with Horry County on something around Crab Tree swamp and we started narrowing the focus from there,” Joy Brown, the Marine Program Manager at the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina said.

She added, they also chose to focus on this area because of the FEMA buyout properties the City of Conway acquired nearby.

“We felt like there was a lot of space to work,” Brown said. “We knew the church wasn’t interested in leaving, they wanted to stay in that area. We felt like it was a good opportunity to have some kind of connection to Crabtree swamp.”

The plan was made possible after The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina received grant money from Boeing that allowed them to hire an engineer to work on the project

The plan Robinson Design Engineers shared with Council aims to provide more water storage in the area through nature-based initiatives like a new watershed.

The design included developing terrace play areas on the land, a marshy area, open water and adding a boardwalk system to wind through it.

She said nature-based mitigation works to ease flooding concerns while also adding new features to the area.

“Using natural elements that wouldn’t have to be removed and discarded if there was flooding in that area,” Brown explained. “They wanted to develop something that would have that natural feel and natural look but maybe provide some other amenity with the idea that the City’s main priority is, how do we hold water.”

The Nature Conservancy and Robinson Design Engineers also worked with a graduate student at Penn State who is a South Carolina Native on these plans.

Brown says they’ve been working on this project since late 2015 and the next phase is the fundraising stage. She said the whole project does not have to be done at once; it can be done in phases, and they have already started applying for grants.

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