Will Georgetown de-watering project cause another sinkhole?

People in Georgetown are wondering whether will there be another sinkhole and building collapse. The same flood control project that many people blame for last year's sinkhole started up again Wednesday after a months-long delay.

To solve Georgetown's chronic flooding problem, the SC Department of Transportation came up with a flood control plan that includes pumping water out of a well near Georgetown City Hall to make way for a stormwater retention pond.

But many people blame that de-watering process for causing a sinkhole last year that led to a building collapse and other structural problems, like the ones at Coastal Staffing Services.

"The weight's shifted, the grounds around here, you'll see if you walk around, have got holes where it sank," said Coastal Staffing's owner, Steve Peterson.

After the sinkhole happened, the DOT shut down the de-watering and sealed things up around the well.

When they finished that work, they started de-watering again on Wednesday.

To prevent a ground collapse problem this time, state engineers say they will keep a close eye on 16 water monitoring wells that are scattered around Georgetown, and they'll stop operations if the ground water level beneath one of those wells drops too low.

"If we see the water levels drop, we cease de-watering operations at that time, immediately," said DOT engineer Kyle Berry. "We'll begin recharging the wet well area to refill it with water."

Peterson said maybe the engineers got it right this time and there won't be another sinkhole. But for his property, it's too late now. The damage is done.

"Nobody in their right mind would want to buy a piece of property where there's the possibility whatever they put up is going into a sinkhole."

Berry said the DOT's goal was to make the de-watering a one day project, but they want to take a conservative approach and time is not a concern

He said they may continue de-watering the rest of this week.

Related links:

Georgetown mayor: drainage project not the city's responsibility

Georgetown building closes due to sinkhole