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Water-Related News

East County neighborhood's stormwater system suffers

In the midst of weeks of heavy rains and gusty winds, Heritage Harbour South's stormwater system has taken a beating.

The system, which filters rain through its ponds before emptying water into nearby rivers and wetlands, has various blockages and structural damages that are preventing water from flowing through the weirs, or outfall windows that control water levels of ponds.

As a result, residents are seeing standing water near the metal structures that comprise the stormwater system. Should more rain pelt the ponds and the blockages aren't cleared, standing water levels could rise and potentially flood community streets, Heritage Harbour engineer Rick Schappacher said.

"If water isn't flowing then we know we’ve got potential blockage downstream or the entire system is backed up," Schappacher told Heritage Harbour's Community Development District board at its Aug. 4 meeting.

Some structures, such as those in Lake No. 6, have more than five inches of still water that isn't flowing through ponds.

The filter system in Lake No. 9 has seven inches of standing water surrounding it.

Standing water more than three inches grabs Schappacher's attention.

Pond and wetland maintenance vendor Aquatic Systems is working to determine where and what is blocking the system. The company hopes to have the work covered in its $55,000 contract and completed by the end of August, before the height of hurricane season.

Schappacher estimates 95 percent of the blockages are due to tree branches, litter and other easily removable items. Issues not covered in the Aquatic Systems contract, such as any structural work to the inlets and control structures or areas of weirs that have eroded, could cost a few hundred dollars. Clearing debris and overgrown vegetation shouldn't cost the community more than $400 per location, Schappacher said.

"This community is being maintained well, with its proactive approach on frequently checking the stormwater system, especially before summer rains," Schappacher said. "We're not having the flood issues Pasco and other northern counties are having, and we've had a lot of rain. These blockages will be sorted out soon."