going to have to do something until we get this under control,"
she was reluctant to propose drastic measures, but said the
issue is critical. "People's houses are being destroyed
and nobody wants to take care of them," she said.
idea received immediate endorsement at a meeting of Council's
special services committee on Nov. 16 from Martha Dennison,
chair of the land use committee of the influential Civic League
for New Castle County. "Moratorium is being brought up to me
more and more. ... A lot of people are serious about this," she
state Senator Karen Peterson complained that no one seems
willing to respond to the plight of constituents in her district
southwest of Prices Corner whose homes were severely damaged
during the September storms, Council president Paul Clark called
for applying pressure on Delaware Department of Transportation
to take responsibility for its role in causing some of the
problems and come to the aid of their victims.
said one of the communities hit hard by flooding in September is
Newkirk Estates, which she said had no drainage problems until
DelDOT diverted White Clay Creek to permit widening of Harmony
residents of that community are unable to return to their homes
more than seven weeks after being flooded out, she said. In a
comparable length of time in 2003, state and county officials
agreed to buy out storm-damaged houses in Glenville. In that
case, DelDOT will use land once occupied by the houses to comply
with federal environmental requirements to replace wetland in
the Churchmans Marsh area that will be taken to widen Interstate
can't make people safe in their homes, it's time to get them out
of the way," Peterson said.
said families in several other places are in similar straits and
in need of immediate help.
is doing a whole lot to put a lot of communities under water.
... If they put the stormwater 12 feet off the road, they think
that's handling stormwater," Councilman John Cartier said.
agency isn't alone in bearing guilt for flooding, Peterson said.
"If the state screwed up on a lot of highway projects, the
county screwed up too. [It] listened to experts who said they
could make water run uphill."
exchange came as momentum builds toward officially considering
establishment of a stormwater management utility. As Delaforum
previously reported, the state Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control is backing that idea. Such a utility would
consolidate in a single agency the broad array of
responsibilities related to controlling what happens to
rainwater when it falls upon a highly developed urban area.
Councilman William Tansey called the committee meeting to begin
exploring how New Castle County might relate to or be involved
with a utility He told Delaforum after the meeting that the
issue stands to become the most prominent one facing the new
county administration and the expanded County Council.
Baker, general manager of the county Department of Land Use,
told the committee that the natural resources department has
agreed to finance a preliminary 'does it make sense here' study
by A.M.E.C., an international consulting firm which has helped
establish several of the utilities around the nation.
standard model calls for them to be financed by fees levied on
property owners, both residential and commercial, that are
calculated on the basis of the amount of impervious paved
surface on the property. A.M.E.C. contends that fees believed to
be within the range of public acceptablity can generate a
sufficient amount of revenue to go well beyond what
tax-supported government departments can do.
as it may, it is generally agreed that New Castle County would
face a staggering financial obligation were it to take on full
responsibility for stormwater management within its
A list of
18 drainage and flood abatement projects said to require
immediate attention which was presented at the committee meeting
carried a $12.4 million pricetag with another $500,000 estimated
to be required for relatively small miscellaneous projects.
Special services official Michael Harmer said the list is
neither comprehensive nor meant to represent a plan for
proceeding with remedial work.
Freebery, general manager of the Special Services Department,
sidestepped making any estimate of the overall costs the county
is facing should it decide to expand beyond its present
statutory obligation to maintain its portion of the stormwater
sewer system and to "keep open and free-flowing" non-tidal
on the point, he said stormwater management could easily match
"the $40 million we spend on our [sanitary] sewer system." The
department's operating budget for sewer work this year is just
over $41 million.
thing is going to be a big thing if you're going to do it and do
it right," Freebery said.