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The state of South Carolina has seen some of the most rapid coastal population growth rates and overall rates of urbanization in the nation. Its upward trend in population growth is expected to continue with a projected population in the coastal zone of over 1.5 million by the year 2030. The resulting urban and suburban growth in the region increases the amount of impervious surfaces (e.g., roofs, roads, parking lots) to support the associated development. As impervious surface area in a watershed increases so does the amount of stormwater runoff. In coastal South Carolina, the most common best management practice to control runoff is stormwater ponds.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, in collaboration with various stakeholders, identified ponds as a growing topic of concern throughout the eight coastal counties (Figure A.1). In October 2014, the Consortium initiated the S.C. Stormwater Ponds Research and Management Collaborative, an effort that gathered scientists and resource managers to investigate and address the challenges associated with these systems. The long-term vision of the Collaborative is to (1) satisfy the information needs and concerns of local communities, homeowners’ associations (HOAs), businesses, and industries surrounding pond design, maintenance, and management; (2) characterize coastal ponds to understand their functionality, durability, benefits, and costs; and (3) ultimately develop new and innovative engineering and construction practices to ensure that current and future ponds function efficiently without negative ecological impacts or economic costs due to inadequate maintenance.

Figure A.1 South Carolina’s eight coastal counties with the three coastal regions designated as follows: (1) Grand Strand (Horry and Georgetown), (2) Tri-County (Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester), and (3) Lowcountry (Colleton, Beaufort, and Jasper).

What follows is the Collaborative’s initial product, a scientific state-of-knowledge report on stormwater ponds in coastal South Carolina organized in eight chapters. This report presents an inventory of existing ponds, a comprehensive literature review and gap analysis, and recommendations for research, outreach, and management. Twenty researchers from Consortium member institutions collaborated on this project, which was funded by the State of South Carolina and the National Sea Grant College Program.

Each project team worked to ensure that any information on ponds from coastal South Carolina was included in the report. When coast-specific data were lacking on a given topic, studies from other regions or states were incorporated, as appropriate. The project was guided by the Stormwater Ponds Advisory Council (SPAC) comprised of regulatory agents, private sector representatives, and nonprofits. To satisfy the informational needs of our diverse stakeholder groups, we produced a series of products to convey the information gathered by our project teams. This technical report was written for the following audiences: researchers, the stormwater management community, and local and state decision-makers. To share this report with nontechnical groups, specifically individual property owners and HOAs, the Consortium will produce a pamphlet and booklet series written for general audiences.

The results of this initial work by the Collaborative provide the foundation for the generation of additional science-based information, which fills critical information gaps to address key management and policy questions and provides for more efficient and cost-effective stormwater pond retrofits and design for the future. An executive summary of this report on stormwater ponds in coastal South Carolina is also available.