Resiliency Study Continues

FENWICK ISLAND – Town officials say they await updates as an engineering company continues a town-wide resiliency study.

In Tuesday’s meeting of the Fenwick Island Infrastructure Committee, Councilman Richard Benn, committee chair, announced an update on the town-wide resiliency study has been postponed.

With grant funding from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the town has hired AECOM to complete GIS mapping of Fenwick Island and develop short- and long-term solutions to sea level rise and flooding. And while engineers agreed to come forward with recommendations for flood mitigation by the end of the year, Benn noted that company representatives would not be available to make a presentation.

“AECOM is not going to be able to give us any updates …,” he said. “The resiliency study is underway. I was hoping for a presentation at this meeting, but I’m hoping in January it is going to happen.”

In October, AECOM representatives presented the committee with water inundation maps, which showed 12% of bayside roads being inundated by 2060 and 33% of bayside roads being inundated by 2070.

The town’s most troubled areas, representatives explained, were North Schulz Road, South Schulz Road and Dagsboro Street, which could see the most flooding in the coming decades.

“You’ll see in 2070 you start seeing large areas of the bayside starting to be impacted on a daily basis. Some of the areas are under two feet of water during the high tide cycle,” Project Manager Kyle Gulbronson said at the time. “You get to 2080, and you have significant impacts on the bayside, anywhere from a foot to two-and-a-half feet of flooding per day.”

At the close of the October meeting, AECOM representatives agreed to look at maps they produced for the resiliency study and make recommendations to mitigate flood damage. Officials noted that once recommendations are made, the town could seek grant funding to complete certain resiliency projects.

“We need to make plans now. We are only seeing the beginnings …,” Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said. “It’s scary to hear it, but there’s nothing like good planning to get us where we need to be.”

Last December, the town selected AECOM to complete a resiliency study funded by DNREC. The project, however, was brought to a standstill in recent months as officials awaited contract approval between the state agency and the engineering company.

AECOM has also been selected by the Delaware Department of Transportation to complete a resiliency study of Route 1, which runs through Fenwick Island. The goal of the study, the agency reports, is to examine the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on transportation infrastructure and to incorporate resiliency measures into projects.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.