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Wilmington City Council approves purchase of land for Southbridge wetland park

Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood will be getting some help managing its flooding problem in the near future.

City Council has allocated nearly $809,000 for staff to buy a 22-acre parcel in the neighborhood to convert into a wetland. The rest of the $5-million price tag for the project comes from the state.

Deputy Economic Development Director Jeff Flynn says the neighborhood has a problem diverting rainwater, which could worsen should the sea level rise by one meter as predicted by 2100.

“The stormwater drains in the Southbridge neighborhood drain into the river," said Flynn. "So, when the river level was high – whether it’s high because of sea level rise or high because of the existing tides – the rainwater can’t get out of the neighborhood.”

Flynn says the wetland will alleviate three to four of the area’s seven trouble spots.

“We’re going to have a connection to the river, a hydraulic connection. So if you can envision this wetland area, we’ll actually have waterway connections to the river and that’s how the floodwaters will drain out of this wetland,” Flynn explained

Flynn notes that the wetland won’t fully address long-term problems associated with a state-predicted one-meter rise in sea level.

The city plans to break ground by 2015, with the project expected to be complete sometime in 2018.