Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018GA389B

Effects of storm surge on coastal storm water systems in Georgia

Institute: Georgia
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $18,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $36,000

Principal Investigators: Hermann Fritz

Abstract: To better prepare coastal storm water infrastructure in Georgia for increased frequency of coastal hazards and flooding, the stress that coastal hazards put on storm water systems needs to be evaluated. During the 2016 and 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, the Georgia coastline experienced two significant surge events caused by Hurricane Matthew and Irma respectively. Even though it passed over 200 km Southwest of Savannah, GA, Hurricane Irma significantly affected the city’s storm water system. For example, the control structure located at the intersection of the Casey Canal and Montgomery Cross Road due South of the City of Savannah, experienced a tailwater caused by Irma’s storm surge that the control system could not pump against. The inability to discharge water during a storm event can lead to catastrophic flooding. Hurricane Harvey has highlighted how the combined effect of storm surge and river runoff can increase inland flooding. Many cities along the Georgia Coast use open channel systems like the Casey Canal to convey storm water to tidally influenced rivers and estuaries. Low lying topography along with antiquated and insufficient storm water distribution systems make the Georgia Coast particularly susceptible to coastal hazards. The City of Savannah is spending $149,411,494 on improving the City’s drainage, and $10,213,431 on the expansion of the Montgomery Crossroads Pump Station mentioned above (City of Savannah, 2017). This shows that municipalities are willing to allocate a substantial amount of resources to storm water improvements, showcasing how important it is to cities to have a resilient storm water system. Understanding the interaction between storm water systems and storm surge is essential to making proper improvements, and to ensure the coastal resiliency of Georgia.