Monday, March 1, 2010

Polite persistence pays off with stormwater fix

Bluffton Today

Today’s column is dedicated to one of our local residents named Rick McCollough, from Sun City. Rick is a good guy and afriend of mine, but he is also acommunity-spirited citizen who, when confronted with apotentially catastrophic situation, chose to fix the bad situation rather than sit back and complain about it.

The story of McCollough and his colleagues on the Phase Five Lagoon Committee is almost aparable of persistence, prudent marshalling of neighborhood resources and strategic involvement of sympathetic and effective governmental representatives and functionaries.

When it became apparent that the stormwater management system for the neighborhoods in Phase Five of Sun City was neither operating properly nor constructed to the specifications permitted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, in 2005 McCollough helped put together a committee to petition the developer, Pulte/Del Webb, to make the appropriate corrections to bring the system into regulatory compliance, as well as into proper working order.

Rick was elected chairman of the committee and dedicated three years of effort in organizing the neighborhoods, using largely in-house expertise, and persuading the developer to do the right thing.

None of the tasks were easy, but failure to address the problems would have quickly expanded both the scope of the deficiency and potential costs of the remedy.

Stormwater management, especially in the Lowcountry, is vitally important for several reasons. First, runoff from development is the primary cause of pollution in our estuarine rivers. Secondly, runoff that doesn’t run off is called floodwater and flooding is dangerous and damaging.

The proper way to engineer stormwater runoff is using Best Management Practices (BMPs). One of the popular BMPs is asystem of lagoons or retention ponds. When ponds are not up to standard, however, they degrade our rivers and cannot protect our neighborhoods from flooding when we get extraordinary rainfall.

Rick and the Phase Five Committee documented the problem, enlisted DHEC to verify the lagoons were not up to the permitted standards and persuaded the developer to do the right thing. To its credit, when Pulte understood the gravity of the matter, it worked with the committee and paid to have the work done.

Pulte’s reputation was protected and the Sun City Community Association was spared the expense, around $500 per rooftop, of making the repairs.

Your representative was privileged to work with this fine group of folks in the capacity of facilitator and encouraging advisor. My 20 to 25 hours of phone calls and meetings over the course of the project pales in comparison to the literally hundreds of hours put in by Rick and members of the committee.

If you want to learn more about this inspiring story, go to www.myschh. com/lagoons and read the details. In addition, if you live in one of the Phase Five neighborhoods, go to the site and copy completion documents from the engineers and DHEC. They will be useful if you want to sell your property.

Also, Rick has also offered his phone number, 705-1919, if you have questions or concerns. I would suggest you call and simply say “thanks” for a job well done.

We also need to commend this paper for its handling of this story: no victim; no villain —just accurate and timely news. It’s an increasing rare commodity and I, for one, appreciate it.