Mitigating Flood Impacts and Rehabilitating Infrastructure

The City of Salem, Massachusetts, hired Woodard & Curran to assist with an infrastructure assessment, subsequent overhaul of its stormwater and water infrastructure, and the development of flood mitigation strategies. Woodard & Curran performed infrastructure evaluations, assisted with grant funding, and provided engineering and construction services to implement critical capital improvement projects.

For more than a century, chronic flooding had been an issue in Salem’s Canal Street area, which serves as one of the primary entry points into the City and the Salem State University Campus. This problem was exacerbated by recent development in the floodplain that increased the rate of stormwater runoff in the central portion of the City’s downtown business district.


Salem officials targeted 1,430 acres of densely developed area for evaluation, most of which is located in the heart of the City’s downtown area. The Woodard & Curran project team assessed the frequency, magnitude, and extent of past flooding events, evaluated watershed and drainage infrastructure, and defined potential mitigation measures.

The outcome of the Infrastructure Assessment and Flood Mitigation Planning project is the implementation of a 3-Phase, multi-year stormwater drainage infrastructure improvement program to mitigate future flooding in the highly travelled Canal Street area of the City. The program is intended to protect 50 residences and businesses over approximately 30 acres from flooding during the 1% storm (100-yr) event. The project also included rehabilitation of existing municipal-owned sewer and water system infrastructure and privately owned infrastructure within the project area as well as reconstruction of athletic fields and facilities at a drainage system outfall located on Salem Harbor.


Because Salem had an approved Hazard Mitigation Plan in place, the City qualified to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) grant funding for the Canal Street mitigation project. In 2013 Woodard & Curran assisted the City of Salem in securing $3 million in funding through FEMA/MEMA. The following year, the firm was again able to assist in project funding, helping Salem to secure an additional $1.6 million.

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