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Can something be done about the erosion problems in the Clear Run Drive area?

Julian March

Q. A severe erosion problem has developed that has destroyed and threatens more residential property on Clear Run Drive. Wilmington Wastewater Management has refused to abate the on-going damage without major expense, which involves removing buildings, fences, etc to gain access to the problem area. The property owners (me being one at 5010 Clear Run) are expected to cover the expense of their access to repair a problem caused by inadequate planning by their department. Should I accept the problem and expect more property loss or who should I contact to help with this problem?

A. The StarNews posed the question to Dave Mayes, the city of Wilmington’s stormwater services division manager.

Mayes said city officials are aware of flooding issues in the area of New Centre Drive, which drains into Clear Run Branch, a creek that runs parallel to Clear Run Drive in College Acres.

“We know there’s a problem,” Mayes said. “We have proposed funding to fix the problem.”

Three years ago, when the area got 10 inches of rain, the intersection of Racine and New Centre was under 4 feet of water, Mayes said.

The flooding is exacerbated by a large developed area with parking lots, driveways and roofs, which all have to drain somewhere.

“This creek, which runs under College Acres Drive, behind those lots on Clear Run, is the outlet,” Mayes said. “There’s not another one. This is it.”

When the area gets a lot of rain quickly, the water rises rapidly, Mayes said. When this happens, the water releases energy on the sides and the bottom.

“It ends up downcutting and widening,” Mayes said. The erosion has claimed trees and fences in the Clear Run Drive area.

“There’s no doubt that the stream that’s there is not big enough to handle the flow that’s coming to it,” Mayes said. “There will have to be something larger put there.”

The city has plans to make drainage improvements to mitigate the flooding issues and help ease pressure on the neighborhood,

Mayes said the capital improvement program proposes a stormwater project that would receive funding in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

That project is subject to the approval of the city council, Mayes said. Even if approved, they would not get funding to start engineering work until July 2014, he said.

“We’re a year away before I have any money to go out there and start doing anything about it,” Mayes said.

That project would cost $9.6 million and would be funded by the stormwater utility fund, which is supported by stormwater funds collected by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

That figure includes drainage improvements to mitigate flooding in the New Centre Drive vicinity and also a stream restoration project.

“It’s a big project,” Mayes said.

In the meantime, the city has the option to add a temporary fix for the property owners, or a “Band-Aid” approach, Mayes said.

If they opted to do a temporary fix, they would remove debris, backfill the area and face the creek with stone.

But the city has no easement for the properties on Clear Run, Mayes said, adding, “Legally, I don’t have the ability to go on their property and do anything.”

If you have further questions about the project or the issue, you can contact Mayes at 343-4777.


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User-contributed question by:
Tim Powell

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