Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DHEC-OCRM deserves the criticism

Anyone who is paying attention knows that DHEC gets criticized a LOT. DHEC deserves every bit of it.

If you've been paying attention then you know that:

  • DHEC has the responsibility to approve the design, construction, and operation of stormwater management ponds (SWM) in coastal South Carolina
  • DHEC approved construction plans for Phase 5 (SCHH) SWM ponds
  • DHEC ordered as-built plans for Phase 5 SWM ponds
  • As-built plans CLEARLY show that Phase 5 SWM ponds were not built per the DHEC-approved construction plans.
  • DHEC "cherry picks". DHEC doesn't enforce depth, despite the fact some lagoons are only 3 ft. deep, instead of the 5 ft. that the construction plans say that they should be.
  • DHEC doesn't enforce outfall structure materials, even though construction plans CLEARLY show that they're to be precast concrete, and they're not.
  • DHEC doesn't require that pipes connecting ponds be clear of silt, even though it's CLEAR from the construction plans that clear pipes are vital to the system's operation.

DHEC held a public meeting here in January. DHEC withheld information. DHEC didn't tell folks that they don't enforce depth, materials, or other aspects of the construction plans. DHEC told folks that they were going to require Pulte to fix ALL the lagoons at SCHH (not just Phase 5). It's now clear that's not going to happen.

In my 40+ years as a civil engineer, I've never encountered a public agency, charged with the responsibility for approving the design, construction, and operation of SWM ponds, that "cherry picks" the construction plans that THEY approved when it comes to requiring that ponds be built according to those plans.

DHEC deserves all of the criticism that DHEC gets.


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