Water has again flooded farm fields once envisioned for the Green Diamond, a proposed $1 billion “city within a city’’ near Columbia’s regional sewer plant along the Congaree River.
For the second time since early October, several roads running through the area are impassable. Seen from Interstate 77, property on both sides of the freeway looks like a lake.
At one point last week, Columbia city officials had to use all terrain vehicles to get sewer plant employees to work because a main access road to the property was under so much water.
The December flooding, as well as flooding in October, is the worst city utilities director Joey Jaco said he has seen in the area.
The October flood smashed Columbia with unusually heavy rains, making roads near the sewer plant and Heathwood Hall school impassable. In December, more rain blasted the area as an unusually wet year came to a close.
“This is definitely an inconvenience to have this happen,’’ Jaco said Wednesday. “That area is a flood plain. You have to expect a low area in a flood plain to have issues like this.’’
The property, about 4,500 acres, is the site of the original Green Diamond project proposed by a company affiliated with Myrtle Beach developer Burroughs and Chapin. The project was to include homes, retail stores and recreational areas.
But the project never materialized for a variety of reasons, including stricter flood regulations that made building on the land difficult. More recent flood maps have proposed easing some of the restrictions.
As in October, the area likely flooded from water overflowing the banks of the Congaree and, to some degree, Gills Creek, said Will Graf, a long-time University of South Carolina professor and expert on floodplains. Levees on some of the property are likely holding some of the water in longer than if they did not exist, he said.
But the water will eventually flow back into the Congaree River, Graf said. The main road to Heathwood Hall school was underwater late last week, but dried out enough to start the second semester Tuesday, said Christopher Hinchey, the head of the school.