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UD researchers to plan flood mitigation projects on vacant lots in Wilmington

University of Delaware researchers will look at using vacant lots in Wilmington to help reduce flooding under a grant announced this week. 


Professor and founding director of the University of Delaware’s Epidemiology Program Jennifer Horney has received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and private partners to plan several “green infrastructure” options for vacant lots near the old Diamond State Salvage facility in Northeast Wilmington. 

The primary goal of the project is to develop solutions that could reduce flooding on contaminated sites where toxins could be released. 

“We might be looking at community gardens, green roofs, bioswales, other types of infrastructure that basically can serve a dual use to the community,” said Horney. “Maybe they provide beautification or recreation areas but then they also provide this benefit of managing stormwater and reducing potential exposure that might have health outcomes.” 

The project focuses on an area of Northeast Wilmington that contains about 1,800 feet of shoreline along the Brandywine River and roughly 6,000 residents.

Credit Courtesy of Jennifer Horney
The project focus area

Horney says the process will begin with graduate students developing different types of plans. “Then we’ll meet with community members and get their local knowledge and input, and also hear from them about the types of community benefits they’re most interested in gaining, should we be able to implement this plan in the future.”

Horney says the plan will provide the community quantitative data on the economic, environmental and health impacts of the various designs— which residents could then take to bodies such as City Council should they seek funding for implementation. 

The planning process will be complete by the end of 2020. Horney says her team could apply for supplmemntal funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support implementation of the plans.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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