Norwalk’s Flood Resilience Project: Green Infrastructure for Salt Marsh Rehabilitation in South Norwalk

March 26, 2024

The City of Norwalk, in partnership with The Norwalk Land Trust, is developing preliminary designs aimed at revitalizing the South Norwalk salt marsh and implementing innovative green infrastructure to enhance flood resilience. This ambitious project, situated within the urban core of South Norwalk and encompassing five acres in and adjacent to the Village Creek Estuary, is designed to not only rehabilitate a degraded salt marsh but also to significantly improve stormwater management, thereby reducing the risk of flood damage to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Revitalizing the Salt Marsh for Future Generations

Historically, the Village Creek estuary has suffered from extensive development and neglect, resulting in the loss of two-thirds of its original salt marsh area. A key focus of the rehabilitation effort will be on a three-acre section in the northwesternmost portion of the estuary, which has been isolated and degraded due to an old bermed roadway. This area has seen a significant loss of native high marsh plant species and an invasion of Phragmites australis, a common reed that undermines the ecological integrity of salt marshes. The project aims to remove the historic fill and reintroduce native vegetation, thereby restoring the natural tidal flush and enhancing the marsh’s resilience to flooding.

Green Infrastructure: A Sustainable Approach to Stormwater Management

In response to the challenges posed by episodic roadway flooding and the need for improved stormwater quality, Norwalk plans to employ green infrastructure within its road rights-of-way and public parcels. This includes the installation of bioswales, rain gardens, tree boxes, and canopy trees along city streets, as well as the incorporation of pervious pavement and detention basins in new developments like the neighborhood school at 1 Meadow Street Extension. These measures are designed to reduce runoff, filter pollutants, and increase the absorption of stormwater, thereby mitigating flood risks and enhancing the quality of water discharged into the salt marsh.

Community Engagement and Resilience Building

Understanding the vital role of community support and engagement, the city is committed to working closely with local residents, businesses, and stakeholders throughout the project. The Maritime Aquarium will provide support through their strong knowledge of the salt marsh habitat and professional staff of scientists, and local government departments will collaborate. 

South Norwalk, with its diverse and vibrant community, stands to benefit significantly from these efforts. By addressing flood vulnerability and enhancing environmental quality, the project aims to create a safer, more resilient, and more livable neighborhood for all.

A Vision for the Future

This initiative is not just about addressing current challenges but is also a forward-looking effort to prepare Norwalk for the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise and more frequent and intense storm events. By restoring the salt marsh and implementing green infrastructure, Norwalk is taking a significant step towards a sustainable future, ensuring that the city remains a resilient and thriving community for generations to come.

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