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NC Coastal Federation proposes new drainage project ideas to prevent flooding

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 2:45 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The NC Coastal Federation typically looks at ways to protect the Carolina coast, but it is now teaming up with The Pew Charitable Trusts on a variety of projects that can keep the floodwaters and pollutants at a minimum.

Part of the problem with increased urban flooding is the growing population. Leland alone is one of the fastest growing communities in the country and New Hanover County’s growth is on track for tens of thousands more residents in the coming years.

“Traditional development uses impervious services like concrete and asphalt, which prevent rain from soaking into the soil or pipe storm water into waterways,” said Yaron Miller with The Pew Charitable Trusts. “That can exacerbate dangerous flooding conditions down the stream.”

Each time poor drainage systems fail, the high-water collects harmful bacteria and waste that ultimately end up in creeks, rivers and lakes. Officials say it’s a problem we should all be concerned about.

“Even if you haven’t been in the eye of a hurricane, you pay for flood and water quality disasters in your taxes and insurance,” said Todd Miller with NC Coastal Federation. “When you take a drink, swim, or eat seafood, you share my concern for clean water.”

Wednesday’s talk focused on creating proper drainage systems and enhancing infrastructure to keep up with the growth. There are even some inventive ways that new building projects can help prevent flooding.

“One proven, cost-effective way to mitigate those consequences is through the use of nature-based stormwater solutions, which allow stormwater to soak into the ground near where it falls,” said Yaron Miller “These strategies can be applied on a small scale such as a rain garden in a backyard or permeable pavers in a parking lot, to efforts to restore natural water flow infiltration on its higher landscapes.”

Wilmington has already implemented a rain garden on the UNCW campus. Constant storms and hurricanes wreak havoc on the region’s stormwater drainage systems, so instead of simply responding to that issue, some towns work to get ahead of the floods.

“Rather than doing this pumping and discharging, we’re trying to put infiltration areas in some higher spots where infiltration can occur prior to that water moving down into our lowest areas,” said Brian Kramer, town manager for Pine Knoll Shores .

Taking on these new-age projects cost money, but the NC Coastal Federation says there are plenty of funding opportunities to cut the costs and help cities and counties prevent flooding instead of responding to them. Existing sources include programs like the North Carolina Land and Water Fund, the Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP) through the Division of Soil and Water, and conservation funds.

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