Growth Creates Draining Problem for Wilmington Island Residents

Sandra Hughes in her flooded yard.
Sandra Hughes in her flooded yard.

You know when it rains hard, things flood. But in one neighborhood, it gets worse. Some Wilmington Island residents don't want to pay to get hooked up to city sewer lines, but pooling water has made their septic tanks useless for days at a time.

Sandra Hughes of Wynngate Road doesn't have a front yard any more. It's more like a pool. "They like going swimming in this," she said, walking ankle deep in the water. "They're like there's a lake over there, this is huge. This is deep."

The problem is, this pool isn't any fun. "I cannot use my water. My toilets do not flush, I cannot do my laundry."

"Might have to go get a port-a-john and put it in the front yard," said neighbor Wayne Bradley.

People who have lived on Wilmington Island for years have only recently had to deal with major drainage problems. "The building that's occurred has suburbinated a septic-friendly place," said Hughes.

"When there's more population around you, more roadways are built, more foundations are poured," said county manager Russ Abolt. "That's less land for the moisture to be absorbed."

Abolt says he understands their complaints, but aside from clearing out drainage ditches that are already overworked, the county can't do anything. The only surefire fix is to hook into the city sewer system. But that can cost up to $10,000.

People who live along the drainage ditch say they'd rather pay to maintain it than hook into city sewers.

"Absolutely," said Hughes. "We have several people here that are friends with engineers. We're reasonably intelligent people. We would prefer to maintain our own ditch."

Hughes and her neighbors say they expect drainage to be a little slow since they're so close to sea level, but it's gotten ridiculous as more and more people move into the area.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite,