Why Wilmington Homes And Streets Flood So Often

One of the issues we often see in the Wilmington area in regards to flooding and improper drainage is the existing drain and storm water systems are not prepared to handle large amounts of rain water runoff adequately.The causes of this draining problem are many and varied. Some of the causes are;

Outdated and undersized storm water systems.

Poor soil conditions that are not conducive to proper drainage.

With little elevation, water flows slowly, causing backups and flooding.

Overbuilding in some areas.

Deforestation for building has led to less absorption by vegetation.

Outdated and undersized storm water systems.

Many of Wilmington’s storm water drain pipes are over powered by the additional water they are forced to carry from newer homes and subdivisions that were built during 1990’s and early 2000’s. Much of the underground storm water pipe system is outdated and too small to properly handle the large storms we often get in the summer months. Each home built consumes a previously pervious area, and often much more than just the house itself. Driveways, garages and streets all add to the impervious surfaces, where the vast majority of water will be runoff and little to none will soak into the soil. Houses, driveways and streets all replace the previously existing trees and brush which slowed runoff water and absorbed large portions of it, helping to prevent flooding and erosion issues. In addition, homesites have become substantially smaller than homesites 40 years ago. The value and shortage of land has caused lots to decrease from about 40,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet or even less! This means the average home will consume more than 25% of the land and displace all that water into the yards and streets.

Poor soil conditions that are not conducive to proper drainage.

The Cape Fear River stretches through 200 miles of eastern North Carolina, carrying water and sediment from the land where Greensboro and Fayetteville are located and depositing it at the mouth of the river. Over thousands of years the sediment left behind after each flood stage slowly built up much of the land that Wilmington and Leland are now located on. These sediment deposits are mostly topsoil from inland that has eroded during heavy rains. This sediment is very nutrient rich and encourages lush vegetation growth, but it also has very poor drainage attributes. Added to this issue is the high water table for most of our area, sometimes less than 12 inches below ground during Wilmington’s wet, rainy season. These two, combined with relatively flat lowlands has led to an ongoing battle for drainage and erosion control for many of the homeowners and commercial sites in Wilmington NC.

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