Fenwick Island Town Council looks at drainage issues

Fenwick Island Town Council members and residents heard a report at the Dec. 6 council meeting regarding how municipalities can more effectively address the drainage issues common in coastal towns.

Debbie Pfeil of KCI Technologies presented the report, which outlined changes in impervious surface totals in the beach towns in nine years from 2007 to 2016, as well as “best management practices” that the coastal towns could adopt to help lessen the effects of development on already challenging drainage issues.

Pfeil had also given the “Resilient Communities” report to officials in Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Henlopen Acres, South Bethany, Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach over the past two months. The Center for the Inland Bays and the Save Our Lakes Alliance were also partners in the study, which was conducted by the University of Delaware and was funded by the federal National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On average, Pfeil reported, impervious surfaces in the beach towns increased by 3 percent since 2007, from 32 percent to 35 percent by 2016.

The Best Management Practices section of the report covered ways in which towns and individual property owners can help mitigate drainage issues and flooding caused by stormwater runoff.

Reducing the rate of runoff by slowing down stormwater runoff or allowing it to percolate into the soil can reduce flooding. Filtering the water removes pollutants. Providing wildlife habitats creates areas that are beneficial to pollinators, birds and/or small mammals. Aesthetic improvements to properties can also be beneficial for drainage.

A wide range of measures were listed in the presentation, from rain gardens and raised planter boxes to infiltration trenches, such as the one installed by the Town of Fenwick Island at Bayard Street to allow stormwater to filter and to store stormwater before it drains into the canal.

The entire PowerPoint presentation given by Pfeil is available on the Town’s website at www.fenwickisland.delaware.gov.

Meanwhile, also at the Dec. 6 meeting, the council voted to approve an easement request from the state Department of Transportation for a 16,900-square-foot area at the intersection of Routes 1 and 54 for the placement of a water pipe designed to help prevent flooding at the intersection.

DelDOT crew chief Stewart Megee told the council the piping is believed to be the “least invasive way to help” the persistent flooding there. Town Manager Terry Tieman said the Town and the State have been working for two years on finding a way to solve the problem.

With the easement agreement, the Town will not seek to be compensated for the transfer of the property to the State.

The council also approved two requests from the Center for the Island Bays for funding for two projects: $2,000 for a study of the economic value of the Inland Bays, based on investment in cleanup of the bays; and $1,000 for the CIB’s oyster gardening program. That oyster restoration program was begun in 2003 and utilizes volunteers to raise small numbers of oysters in the waters surrounding their docks and bulkheads.

The town council will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9 to discuss, and possibly vote on, a mutual assistance agreement between the Fenwick Island Police Department and surrounding departments.

The vote was postponed at the Dec. 6 meeting at the request of Council Member Vicki Carmean, who said, “I’m concerned about some of the side issues that might occur,” in relation to the proposed agreement, which arose from a previous agreement between the Fenwick Island, Ocean View and South Bethany police departments to help South Bethany while it rebuilt its force following the departure of most of its officers earlier this year.


By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter