Wilmington, DNREC release city climate change report

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A report has been released on climate change issues facing Wilmington.

Mayor  Mike Purzycki, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources, and Wilmington City Public Works Commissioner Kelly Williams announced  the release of the report and a
new website.

Flooding from Brandywine Creek from the remnants of Hurricane Ida led to water rescues and people being driven from their homes. (City of Wilmington photo)

Goals

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  • To incentivize and encourage smart and resilient economic growth for the City of Wilmington.
  • To ensure sewer and stormwater infrastructure can provide the same level of service in the future as it does today through both traditional and innovative green solutions.
  • To develop a transportation system with a smaller footprint on the environment while also protecting infrastructure from the risks posed by climate change.
  • To work with city partners to connect residents to resources that will help them stay safe from the risk posed by climate change.

A significant portion of Wilmington is within the 100-year floodplain. These areas include the Port of Wilmington, the Southbridge neighborhood, 7th Street Peninsula, and portions of Riverside and Price’s Run. Flooding has been reported in these areas.

The study shows the floodplain is expanding as sea levels rise and concludes that the entire city will eventually feel the effects of rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns related to climate change.

Purzycki said Wilmington’s vulnerability to climate change is apparent by the increase in local flooding in recent years caused by heavier rainfall and higher tides.

The Mayor said he is committed to the city’s building resilience into its future policies, planning, and budgeting. 

Residents and businesses are asked to do the following: 

  • Visiting the website here to learn more about the Resilient Wilmington plan.
  • Walking, biking, or using public transportation to reduce air pollution.
  • Purchasing and maintaining flood insurance, even if your property is outside of the floodplain, because anywhere it can rain, it can flood. Nationwide, more than 40% of recent flood insurance claims have come from properties outside of the designated floodplain.
  • Adding rain gardens or other planters on your property to help capture rainfall.
  • Creating an emergency plan.
  • Attending community meetings and having your voice heard. 

Other observations

Delaware is tied with Arizona as the fourth-fastest warming state in the United States based on temperature trends since 1970 and is expected to warm another 1.5 to 2.5 degrees by 2039. Wilmington has already experienced an increase of almost three more calendar days above 90  since 1970, and dangerously hot days are anticipated to increase from 5-6 days in 2017 to 22-48 days in 2100.

Over the last few decades, Delaware has experienced minimal change in  precipitation totals. The impact climate change will have on precipitation varies. However, looking forward, annual average precipitation in Delaware is projected to increase 10 percent by the end of the century, and seasonal precipitation changes are predicted to see the largest increase in winter.

DNREC’s Coastal Program has projected 1.7 – five feet of sea-level rise by the year 2100. In addition to Delaware’s low-lying topography, the state is experiencing land subsidence or sinking. The present-day rate of land subsidence is 1.5 mm per year to 3 mm per year, the highest on the Atlantic Coast. 

This Resilient Wilmington study was compiled through funding from the Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Climate, Coastal & Energy’s Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and the support of the Wilmington Department of Public Works. The grant funding was made possible through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon dioxide (CO2) cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. 

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