Delaware panel tries to rein in future flooding damage

Delaware’s relatively low elevation means the state is susceptible to flooding, a concern that’s been on the top of many Delawareans’ minds following heavy rains over the past two months.

Delaware’s mean elevation is just 60 feet above sea level, and more than 331 square miles of the state’s land is within a 100-year floodplain.  That’s why the General Assembly created the Floodplain and Drainage Advisory Committee tasked with the job of finding ways to reduce damage from flooding.

Governor Jack Markell (D- Delaware) signed Senate Bill 64 creating the committee in August. “This law brings together a variety of Delawareans, providing a forum to identify practices that will prevent or minimize flooding,” Markell said.

Since 1996, the state has spent $65 million to resolve flooding and drainage problems, and there are still about 500 drainage projects in the planning stages throughout the state. Those projects are estimated to cost $58 million.

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The 21-member committee held its first meeting last week, identifying some issues that cause flooding that need to be addressed.  Those issues include some large scale subdivisions being built “without accurate floodplain delineations, accurate topography, or base flood elevations determined.”

DNREC’s Frank Piorko chairs the committee.  He says, “The Committee will examine whether existing policies and practices provide adequate notifications to prospective property buyers of existing flooding and drainage issues.”  He says the committee will also talk about smarter construction practices that could mitigate some of the flooding issues, and in turn, lower the overall cost of flood insurance.

The committee will hold its next meeting Thursday, Oct.. 27, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Felton/Farmington Room located in the Department of Transportation, 800 Bay Road, Dover.

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