Plan for Dover’s flooding in the works

 

Delaware Public Archives information resource specialist Margaret Dunham of Dover points to a map of Dover from Beers Atlas — an atlas of Delaware from 1868 — that shows the corner of State and Water streets Friday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Delaware Public Archives information resource specialist Margaret Dunham of Dover points to a map of Dover from Beers Atlas — an atlas of Delaware from 1868 — that shows the corner of State and Water streets Friday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — When Dover is hit with heavy storms, it seems as though certain areas are always plagued with flooding problems.

A prime location for this deluge is the intersection of Water Street and Governors Avenue.

Some may think Water Street was named due to it being one the main roads that floods during rainstorms, but it wasn’t according to Margaret R. Dunham, information resource specialist for the Delaware Public Archives.

The most recent flooding of the intersection at Water Street and South Governors Avenue was during a downpour on Aug. 20, when an eyewitness said the water went from blacktop to high on cars in about 10 minutes. (Submitted photo)

The most recent flooding of the intersection at Water Street and South Governors Avenue was during a downpour on Aug. 20, when an eyewitness said the water went from blacktop to high on cars in about 10 minutes. (Submitted photo)

“The street was in the original layout in Dover in 1717,” Ms. Dunham said. “There was a branch of water that flowed through that area which dumped into the St. Jones River.

“It was the street that went to the landing where the boats pulled up at,” Ms. Dunham added.

The Water and South Governors intersection has been a trouble spot for at least 30 years, said city manager Scott Koenig.

“The water pipes are a cabbage patch of different sizes and links,” Mr. Koenig said.

“It’s an undersized link of pipes from the intersection of Water Street and Governors Avenue all the way back to the St. Jones River, which causes flooding during heavy rain.”

Ms. Dunham said over time as the city continued to progress, roads were built over top of the branch, which is why she believes the area has flooding issues.

“It’s a natural low point, that’s why that street seems to flood all of the time,” Ms. Dunham said. “It was water running through that area at one time.”

In July 2013, the area received 4 inches of rain in a short amount of time and nearly flooded Bayhealth’s Kent General Hospital.

Water from the west side of Dover moved across town through the south side before emptying into the St. Jones River.

“The hospital’s new parking lot is a low point as well,” Ms. Dunham said. “The water branch ran through that part as well, so that may be a reason why it tends to flood too.”

The city is currently working on an upgrade for the storm drain, said Mr. Koenig.

“We’re in the preliminary phase,” Mr. Koenig said. “We just got the study back, which studied the current capacities of the system.

He estimated the cost would be about $4 million to $6 million even though previously he placed the cost at between $7 million and $15 million.

“The most recent number was before we started the study,” Mr. Koenig said. “The 15 million dollars came from not having any idea what to expect.

“We didn’t know what we were dealing with. The final designs came back and we realized that we will be in the $4 to $6 million range.”

Construction is about two years away, said Mr. Koenig.

“This year we would like to secure the designs,” Mr. Koenig said. “Then we would have to secure the funding and then from there hopefully construction will start.”

Mayor Robin Christiansen hopes to resolve the issue as well.

“We can’t turn away from the blame,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“We have responsibility along with the state to fix the situation. “We’re going to take a long, hard look and come up with a game plan for it.”

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