Indian Trail Improvement District Engineer Jay Foy gave an update last week on drainage projects completed, in progress and planned for the future, as well as the expected cost to replace or repair deteriorating drainage structures in The Acreage.
Foy’s presentation was part of an ITID Board of Supervisors workshop on Wednesday, April 22. The board has focused on improving drainage since the widespread flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012.
Foy said the $4 million reconstruction of the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area berm by the South Florida Water Management District has just begun, after the SFWMD received a permit from ITID.
The berm was in danger of breaching, sending more water into The Acreage during the aftermath of the storm. A temporary weir was built by the SFWMD for stormwater to spill into the Mecca Farms property in order to prevent a breach.
“We are not providing the funding, and we are not doing the construction, but we did have something to do with it,” Foy said.
ITID has received a permit for a second bypass at Pump Station 2 just north of Orange Blvd. on the M-1 Canal, which Foy had discussed in January.
“I am now starting the third design of that because… the soils are so bad that the retaining walls are going to fall down unless you spend a lot of money, and the building next to the pump station itself is not on footers, so we’re afraid that building would be damaged,” he said.
Joseph Capra of Captec Engineering is designing an inverted siphon to replace one underneath the M Canal at 130th Trail North, which is being widened and deepened by the City of West Palm Beach.
“They have been excavated to be much better-flowing canals in one square mile of the lower basin,” Foy said.
He added that ITID now has permission to discharge 200 cubic feet per second through the M-1 Canal to the C-51 Canal without having to ask permission. “It’s nothing new, except we don’t have to ask to get permission,” Foy explained.
He said new solar-powered telemetry has been installed or upgraded at most of the pump stations to improve monitoring of flow measurements and enable remote activation of the pumps. “We now have new solar chargers at the pumps so we don’t have to start up the diesels,” Foy explained.
Telemetry at the 40th Street gate has been upgraded to include an automatically operated trash rake. Telemetry has also been installed at the Okeechobee Blvd. station, which he said is a key location for the system because it is halfway between The Acreage and the C-51 Canal.
“That’s where we tell if we are in balance with what comes out of us and out the [C-51] amil gates,” he said, adding that they had also upgraded telemetry at the gate itself.
Foy also did an inventory of the M-2 and lower M-1 basin of what needs to be done next and what is most urgent.
“This is how we assign what you need to do so we know what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s not just haphazard.”
Many of the swales have also been upgraded in the last two years to improve drainage, he said.
For the future, Foy has been looking at the federally owned Moss property northwest of The Acreage for future discharge.
“We have a proposal out there now that’s 50 to 300 cubic feet per second,” he said. “It could be more, but we need to stay in that range to see how high the program will look.”
Foy added that there is a possibility that the Mecca Farms site might accept water. The area was used after Tropical Storm Isaac for the emergency weir. “Right now, it’s not being thought of, but it’s still a possibility,” he said.
Canals have been identified that need excavation next, as well as old corrugated steel culverts that need to be replaced but have not been budgeted for. He noted that replacing the culverts will include tearing up the roads that they run under.
Foy reported that he has also talked to the Seminole Improvement District, now controlled by Minto West, about possible discharge into their area, and they have a development condition to provide 168 cubic feet per second to neighboring areas, most likely ITID.
The Seminole Improvement District has a permitted discharge of 2 inches per day into the C-51 Canal dating back to when it was a citrus grove. The discharge would go through the Seminole Improvement District and into the M-2 Canal to the C-51 Canal.
“That takes construction of a couple of million dollars,” Foy said. “We have a way to deliver that through the M-1 Canal right now. All we would need is an administrative agreement. The only people who would be concerned would be Royal Palm Beach that no harm would come to them.”
Foy said that he is frustrated by the lack of progress in the settlement of a lawsuit with the SFWMD regarding discharge into Stormwater Treatment Area 1-E.
“We settled, certain agreements were made where we would get a certain amount of discharge, and it would go to STA-1 East,” he said. “Due to various and sundry problems, that has never happened. We’re playing nice in the sandbox right now mainly because there is a large potential for Moss to be all or a good portion of our solution. I have not recommended to you that you pursue legal action, but I want you to remember that we already won, but we haven’t gotten anything out of it.”