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Trees to Offset Stormwater - “Trees2O H2O”
Project Announcements
  1. Grant Start: November 2016
  2. Public Meeting: June 15, 2017
  3. Public Meeting: November 29, 2017
  4. Grant End: September 2018 Final Case Study Report
  5. Next Steps: Implementation

Public Meetings
  1. Public Meeting: Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm, Location: College of Charleston's School of Business, Wells Fargo Auditorium (Room 115), 5 Liberty Street
    Informational FlyerPress ReleasePhotos from Event
  2. Public Meeting: Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm, Location: 75 Calhoun Street, 3rd Floor Meeting Room 
    Informational FlyerPress ReleasePhotos from Event

The City of Charleston is one of thirteen southern localities that has received funding to carry out a project to link urban tree canopy to stormwater mitigation, specifically for cities with Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permits to manage stormwater.  The project is helping southern cities utilize their urban forests to better manage and reduce stormwater runoff.  Urban trees soak up tremendous volumes of stormwater.  The more treed the landscape, the less runoff and flooding may occur.  This project will assess the city’s tree canopy and determine its role for treating and absorbing stormwater.

Project Partners
Project partners include the City of Charleston, The South Carolina Forestry Commission and The Green Infrastructure Center (GIC).  Funding is provided by the USDA Forest Service and matched in-kind through participation by the City.

City agencies involved on the Project’s Technical Review Committee include Information Technology and Geographic Information Services; Parks and Urban Forestry; Planning, Preservation and Sustainability; and Public Service and Stormwater Management.  Staff from these departments formed a technical review committee, advising the GIC and coordinating Charleston community events. 

Why has the Project Been Funded?
Rapid urbanization and climatic fluctuations have led to increased risk of flooding and degraded water quality in cities. Trees can be utilized as a key strategy for addressing this problem. Trees intercept, store and transpire stormwater and are a vital tool in abating and cleaning stormwater runoff. One urban tree can intercept thousands of gallons of water annually.  But while the benefits of trees are well known, most cities do not include trees as a component of their stormwater management strategies. 

What Will Charleston Receive for Participating?
The primary outcome is a process for integrating trees into the City’s stormwater management program. Ultimately, Charleston will have a more strategic and effective process for combating stormwater runoff.

Charleston will receive:

ü  Updated tree canopy and impervious land cover map used to map current canopy and analyze runoff, stormwater benefits and potential for mitigating stormwater.

ü  Potential planting areas map (digital GIS) used for strategic planning to set future canopy goals.

ü  Codes and Ordinance Audit for urban trees to facilitate better management and care.

ü  Workshops with local committees to provide education and solicit input.

ü  Model ordinance language or other program/policy documents for using trees to meet stormwater regulations.

ü  Written step-by-step- strategy and methodology for linking urban forest systems to urban MS4 requirements for each of the specific partner city(s).

ü  Case study of the project suitable for sharing at workshops, with elected and appointed officials and other agencies and stakeholders.

In addition to the outcomes listed above, by better evaluating and planning for its trees, Charleston will also realize other ‘ecosystem services’ of the urban forest such as cleaner water, air, aesthetic values, open space, walkable and bikable streets, safer pathways, improved climate for businesses and better real estate values. 

Who is the GIC?
The Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) is providing the technical support and project management. The GIC is a non-profit organization. More information about GIC is available at

The project began in November 2016.  The case study report was completed in August 2018, and the grant period ended September 2018.

Want to Learn More?
Please see the below resources that explain how urban forests as green infrastructure are a vital tool in managing and reducing stormwater runoff.  

Contact Us
If you have questions, please contact Katie McKain at (843) 724-3789 or .