Flooding problems persist on Read Avenue in Dewey

Town leaders say more info needed on proposed bayside infrastructure project
July 28, 2023

Officials working to control flooding on Read Avenue in Dewey Beach say more information is needed before agreeing to a costly proposal to add flapper gates on outfall pipes.

Town Manager Bill Zolper told commissioners at the July 21 meeting that the bayside street has experienced continuous flooding problems in his two years with the town. Numerous remedies have been tried, he said, including moving rocks and cleaning the storm drains at least twice.

Defective baffles inside the pipes were removed, he said, which now causes rain to quickly drain from that street when the tide is out. During a full moon and high tide with winds at 25 mph, he said, tide water comes up through the storm drains and floods the street, so water moves well through the pipes now.

Zolper said Remington & Vernick Engineers proposed putting flaps on the ends of each outfall pipe at Read Avenue bayside. 

The proposal calls for a high-density polyethylene flange to be fused onto each outfall pipe and for the installation of three HDPE tide gates built for tidal conditions. A rubber gasket would be installed between the gate and wall for soft closure, and the surrounding berm would be repaired as necessary with grass.

The plan might not work, Zolper said, noting he wants more information on how flaps will be attached to the pipes before recommending approval of the proposal. At $63,000, he said, it’s rather expensive, but Read Avenue residents are asking questions and want to know that the town is trying to address the issue.

It’s not just Read Avenue, Zolper said, adding that all storm drains on the bayside have issues. 

“The water has no place to go when the tides are high and those pipes are filled with that water,” he said. “It’s only when the tides go back out that we’re able to get that water to move back out.”

Baffles were inside the pipes with no way to clean them, Zolper said. The flaps would be set on a timer so that when the tide is high, they would be closed, and when the tide is low, they would be open, he said. They could also be manually opened and closed when necessary.

Commissioner David Jasinski said there will be demand for such a project on other streets. Mayor Bill Stevens noted the stormwater master plan states that everything drains to Read Avenue.

The town would want to use infrastructure funds to pay for the project, Zolper said. After some discussion, commissioners said the proposal needs to be evaluated by the infrastructure committee.


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