Pipes clogged with oyster growth are among problems identified by a study of the Madeira Beach stormwater system.
MADEIRA BEACH – As many residents who have dealt with flooded streets and properties long suspected, the city of Madeira Beach’s aged stormwater infrastructure is in a dire condition.
A just released study presented at the Feb. 26 City Commission meeting shows key areas of the city subject to major flooding due to factors that include clogged and inadequate pipes and a lack of control devices.
The recommended solutions to solve most of the problems would cost between $13 million and $20 million, depending on their level of sophistication. City Manager Shane Crawford said incremental fixes costing much less can be implemented, allowing the city to undertake the more costly long-term upgrades over a period of years.
The study prioritized areas of the city based on the likelihood of flooding occurring during a storm event. Topping the list were 140th Avenue, Crystal Drive, Lillian Drive, John’s Pass Avenue and Boca Ciega Avenue.
Also identified as flood prone locations were Baypoint Drive, 129th, 144th, 145th, and 155th avenues, Municipal Way, Pruitt Drive, Bayshore Drive, Normandy Road and Boca Ciega Drive.
Fixing each area had a cost ranging from $227,000 for 144th Avenue to $1.11 million for the west end of Boca Ciega Avenue. Flood solutions for the entire length of Boca Ciega Avenue would run about $2.5 million.
Data collected from the areas at risk of flooding show the extent of the problem. Officials said 78 percent of the outfalls have some degree of blockage, with nearly 40 percent showing significant obstruction. Over 25 percent of the inlets (where water comes in and out during a storm) flood.
“The inlet pipes are very small and have some degree of problems,” said Jeff Earhart of CPWG. He also said 40 to 50 percent of the outfalls are blocked.
Solutions proposed by the CPWG Group include upgrading the pipes and restructuring inlets, to be done in conjunction with street resurfacing projects. Areas most severely affected by flooding require more expensive fixes.
Pump stations, which cost about $60,000 each, along with expensive generators and baffle boxes, which collect sediment, are among the solutions recommended for highest priority 140th and Boca Ciega avenues. Madeira Beach currently has only one pump station.
Outfall cleaning, clearing pipes of obstructions, increasing the size of pipes where needed, adding additional inlets and the use of tide control devices were among the recommendations.
Sue Woodbery of Cribb Philbeck Weaver Group said the city should look at doing all of the priority areas at one time.
“You’ll get much better cost estimates that way,” she said.
Southwest Florida Water Management District grant money is available to help with the funding, Woodbery indicated.
Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde said many of the outfall pipes are clogged with oyster shells and should be cleaned out first. She wanted to know if there is a regular maintenance schedule for the stormwater system.
There is a schedule, Crawford said, but “we haven’t kept up with it.”
He said the system maintenance should be contracted out and not fall on city workers. In a later comment, Crawford said the stormwater system had not been adequately maintained for years.
Earhart said some of the pipes have mangroves growing out of them while others are not clogged at all. Oysters tend to like growing on concrete pipes but avoid plastic ones, said Woodbery.
The stormwater study findings and recommendations will now be evaluated by Crawford and city staff members, who will decide on action plans to improve the system. The commission will take up the issue again at a later meeting.