Mayor Purzycki releases Wilmington’s resilience plan and website to manage climate change and build a resilient future for the city

June 23, 2022

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said changing weather conditions — including rain, tidal flooding and extreme heat — are affecting Wilmington residents today and are expected to continue or likely worsen as the climate will change in the coming years. So the mayor today joined the city’s public works commissioner, Kelly Williams, and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). [] release resilient wilmington– a 47-page study containing valuable insights into our current and future climate conditions and challenges, and how to plan and build a resilient future for Wilmington and its residents.

The resilient wilmington The study and new website available here builds on much work already underway by the City and its regional partners to mitigate and prepare for climate change. But the study indicates that additional planning and resources are imperative to ensure Wilmington has a resilient, prosperous and equitable future, embodied in four stated visions, namely:

•Incentivize and encourage smart and resilient economic growth for the City of Wilmington.

•Ensure that sewer and stormwater infrastructure can provide the same level of service in the future as it does today through traditional and innovative green solutions.

•Develop a transportation system with a smaller environmental footprint while protecting infrastructure from the risks posed by climate change.

•Work with City partners to connect residents to resources that will help them stay safe from the risk posed by climate change.

The Resilience Study notes that Wilmington — as Delaware’s largest city and home to more than 70,000 residents as well as the I-95, I-495, and Amtrak transportation corridors — is an important city in many ways for the Delaware and area. However, a significant portion of Wilmington is within the 100-year-old floodplain. These areas include the Port of Wilmington, the Southbridge neighborhood, the 7th Street Peninsula, and parts of Riverside and Price’s Run. The study shows that the floodplain expands as sea levels rise and concludes that the entire city will eventually feel the effects of rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns associated with climate change.

The study indicates that because Wilmington is located at the confluence of the Brandywine and Christina rivers, its proximity to water has long been an economic driver for the city, both historically as an industrial waterfront and recently as a as a mixed-use cultural and entertainment district. City and state officials agree that climate change is creating a new set of challenges. Rising sea levels, worsening flooding, rising temperatures and changing rainfall threaten to inundate low-lying neighborhoods and overwhelm drainage infrastructure.

Mayor Purzycki said Wilmington’s vulnerability to climate change is evident in increased local flooding in recent years caused by heavier rainfall and higher tides. The mayor said he is committed to building the city’s resilience in his future policies, planning and budgeting. He said acting now will allow the city to leverage resilience measures that not only address current and future vulnerabilities, but also drive economic growth.

To help build resilience, Wilmington residents can take a number of actions today, including:

• Visit the website here to learn more about the resilient wilmington to plan.

• Walk, cycle or use public transport to reduce air pollution.

•Buy and maintain flood insurance, even if your property is outside the floodplain, because wherever it can rain, there can be flooding. Nationally, more than 40% of recent flood insurance claims are from properties outside of the designated floodplain.

•Add rain gardens or other planters to your property to help catch rainfall.

• Create an emergency plan for you and your family to be better prepared for floods and other disasters.

•Attend community meetings and make your voice heard.

Other facts from the resilient wilmington The study includes definitions and explanations to help the public understand the enormous challenges facing Wilmington:

Climate change is the long-term transformation of normal weather patterns currently occurring around the world due to global warming. In the last century alone, the Earth has warmed an average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (F). As the planet continues to warm, more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns are likely to occur.

Global warming up is widely attributed to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produced by the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels – such as oil, coal and natural gas – release greenhouse gases (GHGs) when burned, which absorb infrared radiation and gradually warm the Earth’s atmosphere and surface. At the same time, deforestation is another contributor, as forests absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. The destruction of forests means there are fewer trees to absorb GHGs and release oxygen. As global warming continues, Wilmington will experience significant changes in its climate over the next few years.

Temperatures are rising as evidenced by the fact that Delaware is tied with Arizona as the fourth fastest warming state in the United States based on temperature trends since 1970 and is projected to warm another 1.5 to 2, 5 degrees by 2039. As the region continues to warm, so will the frequency of heat waves and “dangerously hot days,” defined as days with a heat index above 105 F. Wilmington has already seen an increase of almost three more calendar days above 90 F since 1970, and dangerously hot days are expected to increase from 5-6 days in 2017 to 22-48 days in 2100.

Changing precipitation. In recent decades, Delaware has experienced minimal changes in observed precipitation totals. The impact of climate change on precipitation varies. However, in the future, average annual precipitation in Delaware is projected to increase by 10% by the end of the century, with seasonal changes in precipitation expected to see the greatest increase in winter.

Sea level rise. DNREC’s Coastal Program has projected 1.7 to 5.0 feet of SLR by the year 2100. In addition to Delaware’s low topography, the state is experiencing subsidence or sinking. The current rate of land subsidence is 1.5mm per year to 3mm per year, the highest on the Atlantic coast. Together, low topography and land subsidence make Delaware more vulnerable to SLR. SLR-exacerbated flooding has the potential to flood Wilmington homes and businesses more frequently over time, especially in low-rise neighborhoods.

This resilient wilmington The study was compiled with funding from the Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Climate, Coastal, and Energy Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and support from the Department Wilmington Public Works. Funding for the grant was made possible through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon dioxide (CO2) cap and trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 from the electricity sector. The City appreciates additional support from WILMAPCO, Wilmington Initiatives, Wilmington Planning Department, Wilmington Office of Emergency Management, Riverfront Development Corporation, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware Academy of Medicine, Delaware Public Health Association, The Nature Conservancy, Delaware Geological Survey, University of Delaware, Tetra Tech and Delaware Emergency Management Agency.

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