CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston city leaders are moving forward with the next phase of the sea wall project aimed at protecting the peninsula from sea level rise, tidal flooding, and storm surge.

Leaders said Tuesday that the approximately $4 million Army Corps of Engineers study of storm surge risk to the Charleston peninsula is almost complete.

Following an independent review, the city’s 3 X 3 Advisory committee recommended Charleston City Council approve moving to the Army Corps’ next project phase for the barrier wall, which is being referred to as “pre-construction, engineering, and design.” The committee voted to continue its oversight.

The city and members of the community reviewed two drafts over the past year which included ideas for the wall expressed through hundreds of comments and evaluated by the Army Corps.

“Some were incorporated in the study’s second draft, including a change in the path of the protection wall; others will be considered if the project gains approval and moves to its next phase,” the city said. “At the same time, a long-needed city-wide Comprehensive Water Management Plan for all of Charleston will be underway shortly, funded for 2022.”

Leaders say the planning tool will help the Army Corps project and create a citywide blueprint for where and how flooding risk from all sources will be handled amid a threat of sea-level rise, tidal flooding, and “rain bombs.”

Now, a wide range of drainage, land-use, and water-management projects throughout the city will be on the table.

The Army Corps is actively reviewing the study at its district and national levels.

“While some changes could be made, approval by May is expected, partly because it has the best cost-benefit rating in the country,” city leaders said.

The city went on to say, “After approval from the Corps leadership, and after Congress authorizes and appropriates funding for the next phase of the project, the city and the Crops must negotiate a ‘Design Agreement’ before the project can proceed.”

City leaders say that agreement will include direction on important issues like nature-based elements and the preservation of historical assets, vistas, and cultural entities, and the wall’s path.

It the agreement is negotiated by the end of 2022, and council agrees to move forward, Congress will then need to approve the allocation of funds. Then the next phase would likely begin next March.