WILMINGTON, Del. – This morning, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, toured the Wilmington Wetlands Project in Southbridge, an area along the Christina River already suffering from increased flooding due to climate-change caused sea-level rise. Senator Carper was joined by Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn Garvin for a briefing by state officials on the currently measurable impacts that climate change is having on Delaware and on a walking tour of the Southbridge Wilmington Wetlands Project. 

“The average elevation across the state of Delaware is 30 feet above sea level. The elevation of the next lowest lying state, Florida, is 70 feet. When it comes to sea level rise caused by climate change, Delaware is the canary in the coalmine,” said Senator Carper. “I challenge anyone who thinks sea level rise isn’t a serious threat to our communities to come visit Southbridge, Delaware after a light rain. While Donald Trump proposes cutting funding for states and successful mitigation projects, coastal communities across the country, just like Southbridge, are having to find innovative ways to deal with rising tides as a result of climate change.”

“I express my thanks and appreciation to Senator Carper for his interest in the Wetland Revitalization Project which supports the South Wilmington area of the City,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “This project will enable us to clean up the heavily contaminated wetlands site and de-link the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow system to mitigate weather-induced flooding of neighborhoods. We are proud of the efforts we are making which will greatly improve the quality of life and the local economy.”

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face in Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “I am pleased to join Senator Carper in South Wilmington to view and discuss the innovative wetland planned to help address flooding issues in the Southbridge community. Actions like this across our state, coupled with greenhouse gas reductions, will help ensure the health of our state for decades to come. The City of Wilmington is to be congratulated for their vision on this project" 

The Southbridge Wilmington Wetlands Project will create a high functioning wetland to handle excess storm water runoff and reduce chronic flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood. The $23.9 million project was supported by federal funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and EPA’s Brownfields program and promises to reduce chronic flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood, provide new green space and recreational opportunities, spur economic and housing development, and restore damaged natural habitat.

Last month, President Trump’s budget blueprint recommended a $2.6 billion cut from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget in fiscal year 2018. The budget blueprint cuts 44 percent or $482 million from state grants to help protect public health and the environment, eliminates funding for state climate change assistance programs, and drastically cuts funding to state coastal resiliency programs.