The City of Zephyrhills is updating its stormwater master plan for the first time in more than 20 years — an undertaking that will pinpoint the city’s most prone flooding areas and provide recommendations for addressing drainage issues.
The Zephyrhills City Council on Nov. 9 unanimously approved a project work order with planning/engineering firm Kimley-Horn Associates, for the master plan.
The contract calls for the work to be done in 11 months, and provides a lump sum fee of $249,820. The project is being paid for with city revenues and with Penny for Pasco dollars.
The finished master plan will create a tool to determine flood risk, evaluate the level of service, and develop best management practices to reduce flooding and improve water quality.
The update also will include a GIS-based schema that will facilitate a plug and play approach for future updates.
More specifically, the plan includes these components:
- Conducting an inventory of the primary drainage infrastructure throughout the watershed with detailed analysis of infrastructure in the vicinity of identified flood-prone areas
- Developing a detailed hydrologic and hydraulic model to characterize runoff responses throughout the watershed and flood conditions in the vicinity of identified flood-prone areas
- Developing updated floodplain maps
- Conducting a surface water quality assessment
- Identifying and evaluating alternatives for improving flooding and water quality in the watershed
Kimley-Horn representatives discussed the scope of work during the council’s session.
Of note, they mentioned the industry standard is to complete a stormwater master plan update every five years, particularly for municipalities like Zephyrhills, which has undergone numerable land annexations over time.
The master plan won’t do much in the way of full-blown construction plans or permitting through SWFWMD (Southwest Florida Water Management District). But, it will identify which particular basins are in greatest need of being fixed, how to do so, and an educated estimated cost for remedies.
From there, city staffers can go to the drawing board and begin to set aside design and construction funding for those particular fixes in future budgets.
“It’ll give us a map of how to move forward,” Zephyrhills Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc said. “Right now we’re just kind of spinning our wheels, because we don’t have the funding and we don’t have a plan.”
LeBlanc said the updated stormwater is “long overdue.”
Technology has improved significantly since the last update was done between 1999-2000, he said.
“A lot of the technology in modeling that we have now — GIS (geographic information system), LiDAR, all that type of technology — wasn’t around in 1999 when we did out last stormwater study,” LeBlanc said.
Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe said the plan update could prove useful should the city ever impose a stormwater assessment fee in the future because it will give the city a clearer understanding of what it would cost to resolve potential flooding problem areas.
However, Poe noted, a stormwater assessment is not on the city’s radar yet.
The city manager also said an updated stormwater plan is useful when pursuing grant dollars or state or federal appropriations for various infrastructure projects.
Having an up-to-date, detailed, organized plan with clear objectives gives the city “extra points” in the eyes of those funding sources, Poe explained.
“You can show them the plan, ‘This is what we’re trying to do,’ so that helps being a step closer to grant dollars,” he said.
Although council members initially questioned what they perceived as a hefty price tag for the master plan, they ultimately came around to moving forward with the project.
Councilman Lance Smith, for one, called the plan’s cost “a difficult bite to swallow,” but said he understands the need for updated recommendations for each basin within the city limits.
“It’s a lot of money, but we need to know where to start,” added Council President Charles Proctor. “I do like the fact that it’s going to possibly help us, when we go to Tallahassee (Florida Legislature) to possibly bring back some funding for the city.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Ken Burgess went on to label the plan “a real useful tool” to help the city prioritize its most pressing stormwater projects “instead of just throwing darts at it and getting kind of willy nilly.”
Time to start thinking about legislative requests
In other business, the city manager advised council members to begin considering some state appropriation project requests, in advance of the 2021 legislative session.
A deadline hasn’t been set yet for submittals, but it’s not too early to start identifying priorities, Poe said.
Discussions at the staff level, Poe said, have centered around securing state funding for the following municipal projects:
- Funding for a 30,000-square-foot multipurpose indoor sports complex at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center (that would be large enough for four tennis courts, among other sports and recreation activities, such as lacrosse and soccer)
- Additional funding for runway extension 1-19 at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport
- Seventh Street improvements to make it a “complete street”
In other news, Poe reported that dirt is moving on the U.S. 301/Pretty Pond Road intersection — signaling construction has begun on the much-anticipated project.
“Barricades are there. Signs are there. Station markers are there. The message board is up,” the city manager said.
The $2.3 million project, being completed by BRW Contracting Inc., of Land O’ Lakes, calls for the relocation of an existing signalized intersection from the shopping plaza entrance to Pretty Pond Road, a signalized intersection at Medical Arts Court, and all other required roadway improvements.
The addition of signalized intersections at these locations is designed to improve the mobility, and serve as an economic driver for the northeast and northwest corners of Pretty Pond, officials say. The area is expected to be home to a Chick-fil-A, Aldi, and a national hotel chain, among other businesses.
Published December 02, 2020