FENWICK ISLAND – Officials say efforts are ongoing to improve drainage issues in Fenwick Island.
In a meeting of the Fenwick Island Infrastructure Committee last month, Public Works Manager Mike Locke told members a recent inventory of stormwater infrastructure had revealed damaged valves at all of the town’s bayside street ends.
“The conclusion we came to is they all need to be replaced,” he told committee members. “A lot of the flappers were either broke or different types of mollusk keep getting inside and allowing the flapper to not property close.”
While new valves have been ordered, Locke said the public works department had yet to install them.
“Because of the way this fall went, we haven’t gotten to installing all of them, or even any of them,” he said. “But we plan on getting those installed.”
What started as an update on the town’s valve project however, turned into a larger discussion about the town’s drainage system. Officials highlighted several streets prone to flooding.
“We’ve wrestled with this for a while and it’s a constant concern of the residents in town …,” said Councilman Bernie Merritt, committee chair. “Every street has its own problem.”
On West Farmington Street, for example, officials say drainage issues contribute to standing water near Our Harvest restaurant. Town Manager Terry Tieman noted the town had worked with various engineering companies to try and fix the problem.
“We’re at sea level,” she said, “and that’s the problem.”
Locke agreed, noting that drainage pipes leading to the bay were often submerged.
“During normal tides half of the pipe is submerged in the water, so we have a separate issue of the pressure of the canals and the bay forcing or not allowing the water from the roads to discharge properly,” he said. “The problem is you can’t raise them like you should be because you lose the very minimal grade you have. The backflow preventers should help with that.”
Officials said a comprehensive plan developed by engineers would take the town’s various drainage issues into consideration.
Councilman Bill Weistling noted that the town had completed 19 separate drainage projects, totaling 2,300 linear feet of work, since 2014.
“The town of Fenwick Island is the only town in the state of Delaware where 100% of all the properties are in the flood zone, so it’s a very difficult project,” he said. “I think public works has been doing an excellent job and Terry with the engineers … It’s going to be an ongoing process.”