For the past few decades, Little Mill Creek in Wilmington had a habit of flooding nearby businesses and homes. But officials announced Monday a project designed to reduce those floods has now been completed.
The first phase of the project - addressing the upper portion of the creek- was completed in 2007. The just-finished second phase deepened and widened the creek so it could move more water away from businesses.
"The flooding that used to take place here was just devastating. The flooding in Elsmere led to people losing their homes and their livelihoods. And the floods here also impacted warehousing and all sorts of businesses that took place here along the banks of the creek," said State Senate President Pro Tem Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere). She became involved in the project in the aftermath of a serious flood in 1989, when she was Mayor of Elsmere.
The project took 25 years to complete because of struggles to get funding and permissions from property owners. Officials say it was a team effort involving federal, state and local partners - including DNREC and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The first phase of the project on the upper portion of the creek was finished in 2007. The just completed second and final phase deepened and widened the lower portion creek so it could move more water away from businesses. Native trees and shrubs were planted to further slow the flood waters.
David Small, Secretary of DNREC, said flooding in urban New Castle County got worse as the area rapidly developed. As more surfaces were paved over, they could no longer filter rainwater into the ground.
"That water has to go somewhere. And the drainage system serving Little Mill Creek was not equipped to do that anymore," he said.
Secretary Small added that the project, at its core, aimed to improve the water conveyance system in the area to make it more sustainable.
The total cost of this phase of the project was $7.6 million, with 65% of the funding coming from the federal government.