Downtown project will reduce flooding, protect environment
A massive project is under way in downtown Wilson that will help prevent flooding and will reduce water pollution.
A large area was excavated under the city’s Centre Brick Parking Lot, between Goldsboro and Tarboro streets, next to Whirligig Station, for the construction of an underground stormwater facility.
When completed this summer, the project will provide around 850,000 gallons of storage for rainwater. In a heavy rain event, the facility will take water from nine acres in Historic Downtown Wilson, most of it paved or impervious surface, and release it slowly to Hominy Creek. In a heavy rain, the flow would be reduced by as much as 80 percent.
The facility will capture trash and pollutants in a sand filtration system so the water will be cleaner leaving the storage facility than when it entered.
So while the facility is located in downtown Wilson, its impact will be felt many miles away, across the southeastern part of Wilson County and downstream.
Construction will be complete in July, including the restoration of the Centre Brick Parking Lot.
These types of stormwater facilities are more common in larger metropolitan areas, like Charlotte, but they are innovative in Eastern North Carolina.
However, Wilson has already seen success with an underground storage facility. In 2015 the city partnered with Wal-Mart to build a storage system under the parking lot of its neighborhood market store at the corner of Nash Street and Ward Boulevard. That system is capable of handling around 26,000 cubic feet of stormwater, or about 200,000 gallons. It has greatly reduced flash flooding in that area, especially for homes backing up to that Wal-Mart.
Both projects are part of the city’s strategies to improve the health of Hominy Creek, as detailed in the city’s Hominy Swamp Restoration Plan for Category 4b. The city is working to improve water quality in the creek, as well as build a greenway that would follow the creek from Williams Day Camp to east of U.S. 301.