McCormick Taylor has been assisting the Town of Bethany Beach, Delaware as they move forward with their proposed plan to help control flooding in the town through the installation and use of a pneumatically-actuated stainless steel dam and a tidal gate to reduce the flow of water into the Loop Canal from the Assawoman Canal. We sat down with Chris Brooks, PE to learn more about how our work will help Bethany Beach increase its infrastructure's resilience.

What is our role in the project? What has McCormick Taylor been responsible for to date?

McCormick Taylor was asked to follow up on previous studies of the canals in Bethany Beach, Delaware to assess the hydraulic impact of a proposed dam that would protect the town from frequent sunny-day and storm-related tidal flooding. Our scope involved the creation of a two-dimensional model of the canal system and the topography of the town to see how the proposed dam would affect flood inundation limits and frequency on both sides of the dam during various tidal and rainfall-based scenarios. We completed the study in October 2021, which included several animations of flood inundation scenarios for use in demonstrating the effects to project stakeholders.


If the project is not complete yet, what phase is it in? What’s its expected completion date?

The next step will be Preliminary Design. We are currently assisting the Town with securing grant funding that will help the project move forward.


Have you come across any challenges or concerns while working on this project?

We largely relied on LiDAR based topographic data for the surface of the model as a survey of the several square mile basins would have been cost-prohibitive. Since the area is so flat, even a minor discrepancy can change the drainage and flood inundation patterns. LiDAR is often least accurate with channel and wetland topography, so we have had to do a lot of field recon to confirm drainage patterns.


Are there any social, economic, or sustainable development aspects of the project?

Ultimately, the project has the potential to prevent the frequent tidal flooding events that often leave large sections of the community impacted by flooded roadways several times a year, which is of tremendous social and economic benefit to this community and its tourist-based economy.


What has the feedback been like from the community?

The Town is currently engaging a citizen “Stormwater and Flooding Committee” with public meetings to vet the results of the study and provide feedback on the road forward.