Civic News
Delaware / Environment / Funding

Wilmington lands $2.9M grant for Southbridge wetlands

A dozen years in the making, the project – a key element of the Wilmington 2028 plan – has finally been funded.

Artist rendering of a restored 14-acre freshwater tidal wetland habitat in South Wilmington, complete with a trail system. (Courtesy image)

If you followed the development of the comprehensive Wilmington 2028 plan, you know that protecting the city’s lowest-lying areas from flooding is a major concern, as storms become stronger and the sea level rises.

Now the city has secured $2.9 million in funding to support the South Wilmington Freshwater Tidal Wetland Habitat Restoration for Flood Prevention, commonly known as the South Wilmington Wetland Project, thanks to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

At almost $3 million, this is the largest of 35 grants awarded nationwide through the National Coastal Resilience Fund.

The project, which begins construction in the Spring of 2019, will include a storm water management facility that will reduce flooding in Southbridge, and create a new open space for the community. Around 14 acres of degraded wetland will be restored to a high-functioning freshwater tidal wetland habitat in South Wilmington, complete with a trail system.

“This federal grant will go a long way toward alleviating some of the man-made effects that the environment in the Southbridge community is facing, including flooding,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate. “I toured this area not too long ago to see first-hand how this grant will transform the community – not just by fixing the flooding problems – but by also restoring the natural habitat and providing a safe place for residents and visitors to walk, run and take in the beauty of our coastal areas.”

Mayor Mike Purzycki credited Senators Carper and Chris Coons, and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, for helping secure the grant.

“Lisa, Chris and Tom are fighting for us in Washington every day on a number of fronts,”  Purzycki said, “and on this one in particular they pushed especially hard because we’ve applied for federal grant funding a few times in the past and had not succeeded until now.”

The project’s location is just south of the Christina River, near the ShopRite of Christina Crossing and the in-development 76ers Fieldhouse. An artist rendition (above) shows a picturesque bridge spanning marshland in an area that is currently undeveloped.

Proposed South Wilmington Wetlands Project

Proposed South Wilmington Wetlands Project (Courtesy image)

Earlier in the month, it was announced that a New Castle-based Light Action Productions will be building a large sound stage and production facility on the 7th Street Peninsula, about two miles east of the wetlands project.

Sattelite view of the Christina River region of Wilmington

Satellite view of the Christina River region of Wilmington. (Courtesy photo)

“This grant not only places the South Wilmington Wetlands Park and the City itself in its rightful place on a national stage,” says Richie Jones, Delaware State Director of The Nature Conservancy, “it also tackles some of the most pressing environmental challenges facing post-industrial American cities – buffering the impacts of climate change, reducing urban stormwater runoff and realizing the ecological, economic and social benefits that nature brings to people.”

Here’s more information on the South Wilmington Wetlands Project.


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