Charleston’s future depends upon how well the City and surrounding counties invest to adapt and preserve physical assets, underlying economies of medicine, education, tourism and trade, and enhance residents’ quality of life. Given Charleston’s abundant natural and man-made assets, creatively linking spatial planning, integrated water management, infrastructure and development will yield a compelling vision for Charleston’s future. This process will present a fundamental shift in how we approach the problem of flooding, offering a holistic way of thinking about water, its impacts, and its benefits.
To create that vision, Historic Charleston Foundation and the City of Charleston launched Dutch Dialogues™ Charleston, a collaborative effort bringing together national and international water experts working alongside Charleston’s local teams to conceptualize a Living With Water™ future. This new way of thinking about water, land, and people with multiple benefits will provide near- and long-term value to Charleston.
What is the Dutch Dialogues™ Process?
Over 800 years of living at the water’s edge make the Dutch experts in water adaptation. Flooding cannot be “fixed;” however as the Dutch have learned, risk can be reduced. Their approach combines integrated planning with urban landscape design. The Dutch Dialogues™, through a collaborative effort with city, professional, academic and community leaders in planning, stormwater management, resiliency and other interests, bring an integrated approach, tying together numerous entities, collectively working to manage water. Dutch Dialogues™ Charleston was directed and coordinated by Waggonner & Ball, LLC, The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington, DC, alongside key Charleston-region partners.
Learn more about the history of Dutch DialoguesTM.
Areas of Study
The Dutch Dialogues™ team studied four distinct typologies in Charleston, strategically selected as representative of the area. Approaches and design-solutions for these areas will be replicated to address other areas of the city with similar typography and needs.
Lockwood Corridor / Medical District: An area with a great deal of urban infrastructure
New Market & Vardell's Creek Area: At the footprint of the old Cooper River bridge, a low-lying re-development area
Johns Island: A rural area under heavy development and infrastructure challenges
Church Creek : A highly suburbanized area
Studying a variety of site typologies is an important part of the process as each unique site will yield unique design ideas. These design ideas can then be transferred and replicated to address other areas with similar typology and needs, both within and outside City limits.
The project commenced in January 2019 in partnership with Historic Charleston Foundation and in support of many, including other public and private donors and the Charleston Resilience Network.
August 1-3, 2018: 3-day Pre-Scoping Meeting for the prospective Dutch Dialogues team to gather information and determine feasibility
January 2019: 2-day Scoping Meeting for the Dutch Dialogues team to learn more in depth about the 4 sites
April 30 - May 2, 2019: 3-day Colloquium for the Dutch Dialogues team to better understand and assess the 4 sites and all their interrelated existing and future projects, plans, data, etc. View the Colloquium Final Report
September 26, 2019: Final Report Public Presentation on design recommendations from the Dutch Dialogues team (meeting open to all, 6:00pm - 7:30pm at 2 George Street) View the Dutch Dialogues Final Report
The Dutch DialoguesTM Charleston is a collaborative effort among many partners. Thank you to all partners, your support is appreciated!
Past Dutch Interactions
The City of Charleston has spent considerable time learning about the "Dutch Approach" to managing water. We have hosted Dutch experts in Charleston and likewise a group of City staff and elected officials including the Mayor, along with other stakeholders, visited the Netherlands in fall 2018 for a first-hand look at their approach to "Living with Water".TM From these various interactions we collectively concluded that a next step effort was to bring the Dutch DialoguesTM to Charleston.
By design, the Dialogues are community focused and tailored to bring the Dutch way of thinking to select areas throughout the world. This effort is funded through private donations and City funding and is coordinated with neighboring jurisdictions and all related City projects..
City staff and elected officials meet with representatives of the Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden Water Board in Houten, Netherlands in fall 2018. Their mission is "Safe Dikes, Dry Feet, Clean Water", and they are responsible for flood control, water quantity, water quality and treatment of urban wastewater in their region.