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2016-2018 Research Projects: Hazard Resilience in Coastal Communities

Project: Adaptability toolkit for South Carolina’s coastal water infrastructures

Principal Investigator

Kalyan Piratla, Ph.D.; Clemson University, Glenn Department of Civil Engineering

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Research Description

Sea-level rise and climate change will have societal impacts in the southeastern United States, especially in low-lying coastal regions like the coastal plain of South Carolina. Future changes include increased precipitation variation and frequency, increased storm intensity and flooding, increased coastal erosion, rising water tables, and saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers. Addressing the aged, inadequate and outdated water infrastructure is necessary for instilling hazard resilience in coastal communities. In many areas of coastal S.C., stormwater infrastructure managers are faced with the challenges of inundation risks, inadequate pumping capacity, and insufficient storage capacity; however, limited research has been conducted on the impacts of climate change to stormwater infrastructure in the region.

The project is a collaboration among research scientists, water infrastructure agencies, and consumer groups to predict the future impacts of climate change on water infrastructures, develop appropriate adaptation strategies, and evaluate the strategies relative to South Carolina’s coastal regions, while also analyzing their implications on cost, environment and social well-being. The collaborative effort between researchers and various stakeholders facilitates direct dissemination of science-based information to improve community capacity to prepare for, adapt to, mitigate, and recover from hazards. The outcomes of this project will aid water agencies in long-term decision making, provide guidance to water sector policymakers, and educate residents of the region on the current challenges and engage them in the decision-making process. Overall, this project seeks to minimize the cost of climate change impacts in the long-term, make coastal South Carolina communities safer and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Research Results

Yerri, Shreeganesh, Kalyan R. Piratla. “Decentralized water reuse planning: Evaluation of life cycle costs and benefits ,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, February 2019.

Yerri, Shreeganesh, Kalyan R. Piratla, Brandon E. Ross, Daniel M. Harrison. “Synthesis of Water Infrastructure Adaptation Practices in U.S. Coastal Regions ,” Construction Research Congresss 2018.

Neupane, Barsha. Master’s thesis. “Effectiveness of Low Impact Development Practices in Reducing Urban Stormwater Runoff Under Land Use and Climate Change Scenarios ,” August 2018, Clemson University.

Contact for Questions

Kalyan Piratla (

Project: Performance-based design of low impact development technologies in response to climate change induced changes in rainfall patterns

Principal Investigators

Nigel Kaye, Ph.D.; Clemson University, Glenn Department of Civil Engineering
William Martin, Ph.D.; Clemson University, General Engineering Department

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Research Description

Climate change will lead to increased rainfall frequency and intensity across South Carolina. At the same time, the South Carolina coastal plain faces increased flooding impacts from sea level rise. This additional flooding will stress existing stormwater infrastructure, which was designed to control historical flooding levels and is insufficient for projected future rainfall amounts. One way to mitigate the impacts of increased rainfall and sea level is the use of low impact development (LID) stormwater management technologies. These technologies retain rainfall onsite by allowing infiltration or evapotranspiration to occur, reducing runoff peak and total flow. Examples of LID technologies include porous pavements and green roofs. For LID technologies to be widely accepted, the hydraulic and hydrologic behavior of a technology needs to be well-quantified, models need to be developed for use in performance based designs of stormwater infrastructure, and economic and engineering benefits need to be identified and clearly communicated to all stakeholders.

The goal of this research is to provide stakeholders with increased engineering and economic research on the use of LID stormwater management techniques, particularly green roofs and pervious pavement, in coastal South Carolina. Researchers will conduct experiments to determine the hydraulic and hydrologic behavior of green roofs, enabling performance based design of LID systems. The research will also quantify the engineering and economic impacts of LID to municipalities, land owners and developers—both for current rainfall patterns and those predicted in the future due to climate change—through case studies, and conduct outreach activities to coastal communities, land developers, engineers, and regulatory agencies to communicate the role of LID technology and appropriate design methods in controlling stormwater.

Contact for Questions

Nigel Kaye (