Mayor Shares Announcement of Grant Award from NOAA for Wilmington’s Southbridge East Habitat Restoration Project

In a significant boost to Wilmington’s environmental restoration efforts, Mayor Mike Purzycki announced a notable federal grant award for the Southbridge East Habitat Restoration Planning Project. The grant, totaling $333,558, has been awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This grant not only underscores the collaborative efforts of Delaware’s federal delegation—U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, along with Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester—but also reflects a strategic push toward enhancing coastal and ecological resilience.

The funding comes as part of the larger initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. It positions the Southbridge East project among 30 other awarded projects nationwide that aim to bolster resilience through landscape-scale habitat restoration and ecosystem conservation.

The specific focus of the Southbridge East project is on the restoration and enhancement of 12.7 acres of degraded wetland habitat along the Christina River. This initiative is poised to mitigate flooding, improve water quality, and enhance ecological diversity, providing both recreational opportunities and increased resiliency against climate impacts for the community.

“As the lowest lying state, communities in Delaware – especially those near bodies of water – face ever-growing threats from flooding,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The ongoing restoration work in Southbridge – which includes this project as well as the Southbridge Wetlands Park – is a great example of forward-thinking planning that will help us mitigate the effects of climate change on our communities.”

Senator Chris Coons, Co-Chair of the U.S. Senate Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, emphasized the long-standing commitment to the Southbridge community, which has endured significant climate-related challenges over the years. “For years, our community has made a commitment to residents in Southbridge and beyond to fund solutions that will combat repeated disasters and promote greater resiliency. I am glad that we are keeping that promise with additional federal resources.”

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also acknowledged the broader impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, “This grant – made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act – will make a significant investment in reducing flooding in the area, enhancing water quality, and protecting our wetlands. I am immensely proud to have worked alongside Senator Carper and Senator Coons to help secure this funding to create a healthier, stronger, and more resilient Southbridge.”

Mayor Purzycki reiterated the city’s commitment to environmental justice and sustainable development, expressing gratitude for the continuous support from the congressional delegation. “The City of Wilmington believes in the need for environmental justice across all of our neighborhoods, which is why we are supportive of initiatives like this one. This grant will advance the City’s long-term goals for the South Wilmington community, namely developing and implementing projects that will improve flood resiliency. Through the innovative implementation of an ecological restoration project, the design for this wetland will not only reduce flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood but will also provide ecological services to improve water quality and flood storage, increase biodiversity, support wildlife habitat, aid in mosquito control, and provide for public access and recreation. The City’s project team will build on our history of collaboration and engagement with Southbridge residents to bolster the strong sense of stewardship and environmental responsibility displayed by Southbridge community members. Our thanks to the Congressional Delegation for its continuing support of our City and its people.”

This announcement not only marks a pivotal moment for Wilmington but also sets a precedent for future federal and local collaborations aimed at fostering sustainable communities and ecosystems across the United States.

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