From The Blog

Flood Mitigation Effort and Member Vote

KICA has proposed new infrastructure that will significantly reduce flooding on Kiawah Island, and we are seeking your support. Voting is open from April 1, 2020 through May 1, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Flood Mitigation Effort Overview

Water is one of Kiawah’s greatest assets – the ocean, marsh, river and ponds. The island’s natural abundance is a big reason why people are drawn to the island and why they stay, but living with water requires careful stewardship.

In 2019, KICA established the Water Management Task Force to evaluate and refine KICA’s approach to water management, and determine a comprehensive solution to address Kiawah’s commonly recurring flooding issues.

As the first step to any short or long-term flood mitigation efforts, international water resilience experts encourage communities to focus on water removal through drainage optimization. The task force determined that six strategic infrastructure improvement projects would optimize Kiawah’s drainage system, allowing water to more efficiently exit the system. This would eliminate hazardous flooding in significant portions of the island during many heavy rainfall events and position Kiawah to recover more quickly from storm surge.

At present, a severe rainfall at high tide can flood Kiawah’s main roads, limiting access to and from the island. This has occurred five times in the last five years, and is a public safety issue. In the same rainfall scenario, with improvements to Kiawah’s infrastructure, main roads would remain open to traffic and hazardous flooding on common property throughout many neighborhoods would be resolved.

KICA is asking the community to vote to mitigate flooding by approving drainage infrastructure improvements. This is a commitment of $130 per improved property or $65 per unimproved property annually for five years. Supporting this effort directly benefits Kiawah property values and will provide island access in a flood scenario that currently threatens it. These infrastructure improvements are an essential step to effectively manage water on our barrier island.

If the community supports this initiative, infrastructure improvements will begin in June and reduced flooding may be seen in some areas of Kiawah by the end of the year, with full optimization and the completion of all projects anticipated by the end of 2022.

“A vote to mitigate flooding is a minimal investment with returns benefiting the entire island. These projects immediately diminish a threat to property values, quality of life and public safety. There’s nothing higher on the board’s priority list.”

Dave Morley
Water Management Task Force Chair
Board Treasurer

Benefits of Infrastructure Improvements


Currently, with the highest average annual rainfall at an average high tide (3.8 inch rainfall and 6.16 foot tide), the Kiawah Island Parkway (between West Beach and East Beach) floods with 12 inches of water, the height of some car tailpipes, which could prevent access to most of island. Statistically this happens annually, and it has occurred on Kiawah in all of the last five years.

In the same rainfall scenario, with improvements to Kiawah’s infrastructure, main roads would remain open to traffic and hazardous flooding on common property throughout most of the island would be resolved.

Our simulation model also indicates that the proposed improvements keep the Kiawah Island Parkway, Governors Drive and Ocean Course Drive open to traffic in more severe rainfall events. In the highest average rainfall within ten years (6.6 inches), Kiawah’s main thoroughfares and side roads remain open with no hazardous flooding. In the highest average rainfall within 25 years (8 inches), Kiawah’s main thoroughfares remain open with some flooding on side roads. In the highest average rainfall within 100 years (10.4 inches), Kiawah’s main thoroughfares remain open with some nuisance flooding, and some hazardous flooding on side roads. In a 1000-year storm (approximately 15 inches), like Kiawah experienced in 2015, main thoroughfares would have standing water but would remain passable, with hazardous flooding on many side roads. These engineered solutions will deliver a large reduction in flood risk with corresponding improvements to public safety and island access.


These strategic improvements communicate that Kiawah is a proactive barrier island community that safeguards property values by implementing strong flood mitigation practices. In the short and long-term, property values on Kiawah will be strengthened with this new infrastructure.


Along with Kiawah’s main thoroughfares remaining open, many side streets with known flooding issues benefit. Hazardous flooding will be eliminated (in the 3.8 in rainfall at high tide scenario) in the following susceptible locations:

Kiawah Island Parkway, Governors Drive, Vanderhorst Gate, Atlantic Beach Court, Bank Swallow Lane, Bulrush Lane, Fiddlers Reach, Green Dolphin Way, Green Meadow Lane, Kiawah Island Club Drive, Mariners Watch, Marsh Edge Lane, Marsh Hawk Lane, Muirfield Lane, New Settlement Road, River Course Lane, River Marsh Lane, Salthouse Lane, Sanctuary Beach Drive, Sea Forest Drive, Sea Marsh Drive, Summer Duck Way, Sweetgrass Lane, Trumpet Creeper Lane, Turtle Beach Lane

An Explanation of Funding

The community association currently has no funding source for new infrastructure. KICA’s reserve budget funds the repair and replacement of existing infrastructure as it ages, but there is no fund for new infrastructure. These proposed projects include additions of new pipes and a drainage outfall, and the raising of an existing berm and a small section of road.

Infrastructure is built by a developer and then conveyed to the community association to maintain. The robust drainage system conveyed to KICA was sufficient at the time it was built. However, in recent years, the frequency of rain events has increased, more often challenging the drainage system. New infrastructure will relieve the system and maximize the efficiency of water removal from Kiawah.

The total cost of the infrastructure projects, with endowed maintenance, is $2.9 million. This equates to $130 per improved property or $65 per unimproved property annually for five years. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Kiawah Partners (the developer) are members of the association and will be responsible for the combined amount of approximately $382,800. If supported by the membership, the first annual payment will be billed in June 2020.

The terms of this special assessment restrict funds to be used for water management efforts only. The special assessment cannot be extended past 2024 and the amount cannot be increased. Any debt used to finance these projects will be paid back over the five-year term. No changes may be made to these terms without another vote of the membership.

Effectiveness of Infrastructure Solutions

The new infrastructure was developed by Stantec, an international engineering firm that has a successful history working with the association. The projects were selected because they each solve an existing detrimental flooding issue, and they work in tandem to relieve the drainage system and maximize efficiency.

In two independent digital hydrologic models of Kiawah Island, simulations confirm that the proposed new infrastructure successfully eliminates hazardous flood waters, in the scenario of the highest average annual rainfall at an average high tide, with no unintended water displacement or erosion issues.

A Detailed Look at the Six Infrastructure Improvement Projects

Learn about each of the six projects here.


Submit your questions to [email protected]. Attend the online Q&A session on March 31, 2020 at 3 p.m.


Visit or call 844-797-4575. For voting assistance, email [email protected].