Soil and Water Conservation program helps town clear canal and protect thousands from flooding (StRAP Case Study #3)

by | Jan 19, 2024

StRAP Case Study: Kill Devil Hills
Across North Carolina, there are dozens of recent projects aimed at reducing flooding – some complete and others still in progress. Those projects are focused on flood prevention by improving streams and waterways, thanks to $38 million set aside by the General Assembly. That allocation of money created the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program (StRAP) and made assistance available to communities around the state.

Staff in the NCDA&CS Division of Soil and Water Conservation reviewed applications, awarded the StRAP funding and helped with logistics for the local projects. A previous blog article and a news release in early 2022 explained more about StRAP. Now, with several projects finished or well underway, it’s a good time to share a few examples. The following is a Q&A about one of the projects. It’s the third in a series highlighting StRAP projects throughout North Carolina.

Local entity responsible for project: Town of Kill Devil Hills
Funding received: $258,458
Project location: canal in central Kill Devil Hills between W. Landing Drive and W. First Street
Q&A Participant: Derek Dail, assistant public service director in Kill Devil Hills

Q. Can you briefly describe your project?
A. The project removed vegetative debris from a 2,000 foot section of canal that was excessively obstructed with vegetative debris such as thick leaf beds and pine straw litter with snags and downed trees mixed in. The canal is the major conveyance of stormwater in the town and manages stormwater draining an area of approximately 1,540 acres. It provides a drainage benefit to an estimated 5,000 properties.

Q. Why was this important work for your area? How does it benefit people there?
A. The canal rehabilitation was a great improvement to the drainage capacity to the largest conveyor of stormwater in the town. The rehabilitation of the canal greatly improves the ability of the town’s stormwater infrastructure to manage flooding from heavy rainstorms and protect properties throughout Kill Devil Hills.

Q. How important was the state funding to complete this project? Would it have been possible without the StRAP funds?
The rehabilitation project costs were significant, so the state funding was very important for the project. It is likely that the project would not have been possible without the StRAP funds.

Q. Were there any complications or complex elements involved in your project?
A. The largest complexity to the project is that the stream is located in a developed area between residential home sites where the contractor had to remove the vegetative debris from either end of the 2000-foot project. Much of the work had to be done with a pontoon excavator, floating barges and manual labor.

Q. What was the general timeline for your project?
We were first informed of the program in February of 2022 and met with the local county soil and water conservation representative to determine if our stream rehabilitation need was a candidate for the grant funding. Once we determined that the project was a candidate for the grant, we developed a scope of work for the stream restoration, met with contractors to get an estimate for the work and submitted our application at the end of March 2022. We received notice that we would receive funding allocations in May of 2022 and received the official contract at the end of June of 2022. The contract was fully executed by all parties in early August of 2022. We prepared a bid package and advertised the project in September of 2022. Project was awarded in October of 2022.

Then the physical work in the canal could begin. The project was completed at the end of January 2023. Final inspection, reporting and final payment was complete in February 2023.

Q. Any final thoughts on how you feel about your StRAP project?
The StRAP program provided a great service to our community enabling the town to improve our drainage system backbone, help us be better prepared for hurricanes and reduce flooding throughout town.
“We greatly appreciate the StRAP program award and the vast improvement to our waterway.”

The N.C. General Assembly has allocated an additional $20 million for StRAP in fiscal year 2024 to continue funding projects that reduce flooding, restore streams and protect the drainage infrastructure of North Carolina’s waterways. The Division of Soil & Water Conservation is currently accepting applications for projects including vegetative debris removal, in-stream sediment removal, streambank stabilization, stream restoration and repair of PL-566 small watershed structures. Soil & water conservation districts, municipal & county governments, sewer & water authorities and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for funding. Applications will be accepted until February 23, 2024. Learn more on the StRAP website by clicking this green bar.

N.C. StRAP by the numbers:
Funding allocated by N.C. General Assembly: $38 million
• Amount of funding requested for StRAP projects across the state: >$311.6 million
• Amount of funding awarded: $36,746,160.06
-Total reimbursements: $20,053,432 paid out for all work done to date
• Number of projects approved: 111 awards offered (108 accepted)
-Projects by local soil & water conservation districts: 60
-Projects by other entities: 48 (15 county governments, 20 municipal governments, 13 nonprofits/others)
-Number of projects underway: 87
-Number of projects completed: 21 ($4,665,919.06 in reimbursements paid for these completed projects)
-Location and date of first project completion: Robeson County – work completed Aug. 18, 2022
• Total work completed:
Debris removal completed on 2,698,704 linear feet of stream
Repairs completed on 29 “PL-566” small watershed structures