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Oak Orchard projects help with drainage, flooding

DNREC proposes $3 million in improvements to help with floodwater flow
Mike Conti has live in Oak Orchard since 1981. Here he discusses projects that could help with flooding in the Indian River community with John Ashman, Sussex County director of utility planning, during a meeting Oct. 29. BY CHRIS FLOOD
November 12, 2015

Story Location:
Oak Orchard  Delaware
United States

State officials say flooding in Oak Orchard is, has been and is going to continue to be an issue.

The state is never going to be able to prevent flooding, said Brooks Cahall, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control drainage program manager, addressing a room full of property owners at a public forum Oct. 29 in the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.

“The goal is to minimize the flooding, and then to get it out as quickly as possible when it does happen,” he said.

To that end, the state has proposed five projects, totaling more than $3 million, that are supposed to improve drainage following a flooding event.

Cahall presented a slideshow of the five projects.

Two projects, representing nearly two-thirds of the total cost, remediate flooding on River Road. The first, about 2,000 feet west of the intersection with Chiefs Road, replaces an old culvert with three 30-inch-wide culverts. The second, at the intersection of Cerise Avenue, removes another old culvert and replaces it with three 36-inch-wide culverts. All six of the new culverts prevent backflow.

A third project, with a price tag north of $915,000, will improve drainage in the Oak Meadows development off Oak Orchard Road. This project replaces an old storm drain with two 36-inch-wide drains, regrades existing swales and adds new swales.

A fourth project on Mercer Avenue and Forrest Drive repairs a bulkhead, extends a drainage pipe 50 feet further into Indian River Bay, replaces a storm drain and regrades ditches. This is expected to cost about $220,000.

The final project, a $75,000 proposal in the southwest corner of Captains Grant, regrades old channels and creates new ones.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Cahall said the next step is to proceed with site engineering and produce official construction documents, so when funding becomes available, money will be appropriated to these projects.

These projects are expensive, he said, and it’s going to take some work to get them done.

The presentation was the culmination of a nearly two-year, $100,000 analysis of the area after local legislators were able to secure Bond Bill money in Fiscal Year 2014.

Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, pushed for the analysis. His district stretches from Indian River Inlet south to Fenwick Island, west to Selbyville and north to Millsboro. The district surrounds the Indian River Bay and Indian River.

He said drainage issues in Oak Orchard are the No. 1 drainage issue in his entire district. Something needs to be done, he said.

Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson said the county is prepared to work with the residents if they choose to establish a tax district, similar to a streetlight district, to fund the projects. He said working with the county could expedite implementation of these projects because the county has access to federal funds that the state does not.