Berlin Supports Floodplain Work

BERLIN — After taking a tour of the proposed sites late last week, the Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday voted to approve a partnership with a private-sector environmental group on a project aimed at restoring the Pocomoke River floodplain.
Nature Conservancy officials met with the Mayor and Council two weeks ago to bring the elected officials up to speed on a project planned to restore the Pocomoke River Floodplain to reduce stormwater runoff, flooding and habitat degradation along the vast corridor that runs north to south through much of Worcester including a large area on the west side of Berlin. The Nature Conservancy’s Amy Jacobs told Berlin officials the plan, particularly in the Berlin area of the floodplain, was to breech the levees that currently hold large amounts of water after significant rain events that lead to flooding and runoff in the area.
The Nature Conservancy was seeking Berlin’s blessing to alter and restore the floodplain in the area adjacent to the east side of Pocomoke River where the town owns parcels of land. The town’s parcels are adjacent to the river in the area of Purnell’s Crossing and its spray irrigation site.
Jacobs told the Mayor and Council when the changes are complete, passages will be created through the embankments that currently hold vast amounts of water, allowing the water to slowly filter through the wetlands and into the river. That will improve water quality, reduce the destruction of important habitat and perhaps most importantly prevent the major flooding and stormwater runoff that often occurs during even a modest rainfall event.
Stormwater runoff and flooding have been a hot button issue in Berlin for years and served as the catalyst for the establishment of a stormwater utility in the town expected to eventually alleviate the flooding problems.
After Jacobs’ initial presentation two weeks ago, the Mayor and Council were invited to tour the area to get a better sense of the project’s goals. A handful of councilmembers took the tour last Friday and on Monday they voted unanimously to lend their support to the project.
The project does not require any financial commitment from the town, nor will Berlin be required to supply any equipment or manpower. The Nature Conservancy only needed Berlin’s blessing for the project because the town owns a handful of parcels on the east side of the floodplain at Purnell’s Crossing.