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Sen. Carper tours living shoreline project in Dewey Beach

Sen. Tom Carper visited a completed living shoreline in Dewey Beach. It's a piece of green infrastructure efforts the Center for Inland Bays is working on in the area.


“I mean we’re losing the road, the restaurant, the park, it’s pretty dramatic erosion,” said Chris Bason, director of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays.


Bason is highlighting the dangers that rising sea levels bring to small coastal towns like Dewey Beach. 


He says there have been times when Route 1 has closed due to flooding from Rehoboth Bay. That’s why the center is spending a significant amount of time promoting their living shoreline initiative.


“What we’re doing here in Dewey, all over the East coast, all of our towns, we’re all experiencing the same thing, we’re all trying to solve the same problems and this is it," said basin. "This is today and this is the future of solving the problems on the coast, it’s living shorelines.”


Living shorelines use plants and other natural materials, like sand and rocks to stabilize the coastline, prevent erosion and keep inland areas from flooding.


Bason says without the new living shoreline built on the bay side of Read Avenue, there would still be flooding during high tide, preventing homeowners from being able to access their houses.


Science and Restoration coordinator Dr. Marianne Walch says this living shoreline uses many different creative design elements to improve its effectiveness, like flood barrier boxes that act as a stable spine for the sand dune above, and an oyster reef just offshore; to provide a habitat for animals and calms the waves coming into shore.


Walch says the living shorelines provide so many benefits to the community, beyond just preventing the streets from falling into the ocean.


“And this is important for climate change too because these tidal wetlands are a huge sink for carbon sequestration," said Walch. "So every time we restore wetlands we’re also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”


Carper says the flooding issues at Dewey Beach remind him of South Wilmington, where a large construction project to build a new wetland is underway to ease flooding in the predominantly lower income community.


Walch also took Carper to another site on Dagsworthy Street just north of the living shoreline project, where at least 50 feet of the shoreline was eroded away over time, destroyed what she says was a once lovely park.


She says the center has applied for a grant to restore the Sunset park back to it's original glory, create anothe rlivign shoreline to prevent future erosion and remove the invasie plants that have strangled the park.


Eventually, she adds, the park will become a wonderful place for people to see the sunset in Dewey Beach. Walch says people often come to the beach for the ocean, but can forget about the beauty of Delaware's inland bays.


Projects like the one at Sunset park are just one of many green infrstructure projects Walch says are planned around Dewey Beach.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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