May 102011

Published by: Delmarva Now

BETHANY BEACH — A project near Sea Colony that aims to prevent pollutants from entering the Little Assawoman Bay should be wrapping up soon, officials said.

The Center for the Inland Bays, along with Sea Colony and the Delaware Department of Transportation, is retrofitting the existing drainage ditch along South Pennsylvania Avenue to remove pollution before it enters a storm drain system that empties into the Anchorage Canal.

When completed, the project will treat runoff from 35 acres.

According to Chris Bason, deputy director of the CIB, crews are making good progress on the project and it should be finished next week.

“They’ve done a lot of the physical construction, and then the landscapers will come in and put in the planting,” he said. “Stormwater runoff in these types of urban areas carry a significant amount of pollutants. When that stuff gets in the water, it really causes damage.”

Portions of the ditch along the roadway at Sea Colony are being expanded into bio-retention areas, which trap and remove pollutants through settling and the natural filtration of plants and soil microbes.

One part of the project also includes a series of innovative infiltration pits to direct runoff from the Sea Colony parking lot into the ground, where it will be filtered before entering the ditch.

Sea Colony General Manager Patrick Davis said the community’s primary motivation for being involved in the project was “to be a good neighbor.”

The board of directors also decided to spruce up the area around the ditch with landscaping, he said.

Native wild flowers, shrubs and trees will be planted to slow the speed at which the water enters the system.

The project is one of many stormwater retrofits recommended in a recent assessment of the area led by the nonprofit Center for Watershed Protection and engineering firm Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson.

The next phase of the project will be in Middlesex Beach and South Bethany, where a series of bio-retention and infiltration areas will be installed in the medians along Route 1, Bason said.

“We have a meeting coming up this month … for the second group of projects,” he said. “Stormwater is part of the (bigger) problem.”

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