According to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the Columbia Canal at Riverfront Park dates back to 1824. The canal was an efficient and inexpensive navigation route where the Broad River and the Saluda River form the Congaree River. After the implementation of the railroad in Columbia, its importance as a means of transportation decreased. In 1891, the canal was redesigned and became a major power source for the city of Columbia.
In October 2015, sections of the Columbia Canal collapsed as a result of what is known as the 1,000 year flood. After the incident, the water contained in the Canal emptied into the Congaree River and the city's drinking water was compromised for ten days . In order to solve the problem, the South Carolina National Guard and city engineers built a temporary dam above the breach, which allowed most of the canal to fill with water.
South Carolina Public Radio reported that plans are being made to repair the breach and refill the now empty end of the canal. In an interview for SC Focus, Columbia's Director of Utilities and Engineering, Joey Jaco, said that final results of the repair will be a longer canal walk and more connectivity with all the Riverfront Park areas.
To learn more about the repair process on the canal and improvements that the city is considering, visit the SC Focus webpage.