Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 22, 2017 8:29 a.m.
Newly hired Fernandina Beach Stormwater Manager Andre Desilet appeared before the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) at their June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting to update them on the work of his fledgling department and to explain why he is asking to triple the existing Stormwater/Utility rate in the FY 2017-18 Budget. Desilet said that the city has maintained the same rates since 2012, but that must change in order to develop a preventive maintenance schedule, purchase and/or replace needed equipment and staff the new department. Desilet presented the chart below with rates developed according to the Stormwater Master Plan Study completed last year.
For years commissioners had tried unsuccessfully to adopt a stormwater fee schedule. In 2012 the FBCC finally enacted the measure, but at a rate significantly below that of other Florida communities, meaning that the time to fix existing flooding problems throughout the city would need to be dramatically extended. Desilet asked if commissioners would prefer to consider the rate increase as part of the ongoing budget preparation or as part of the annual fee discussion. Although commissioners did not vote on the matter, three commissioners—John Miller, Roy Smith and Vice Mayor Len Kreger—suggested deferring the matter for consideration as part of the annual fee schedule this fall. There were no objections.
Desilet reminded commissioners that in addition to stopping floods work in his department involves putting in systems that improve the quality of water flowing into Egans Creek and the Amelia River.
The City of Fernandina Beach continues to move forward on eliminating flooding problems caused by poor stormwater drainage. Desilet recently announced the city’s receipt of approximately $250,000 in the form of a grant from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to upgrade the existing drainage system on North 15th Street. The current system consists of grate inlets with undersized piping that discharges into Egan’s Creek. The proposed project will upgrade piping to reduce local flooding, and include the creation of a retention pond within the unimproved North 15th Place right-of-way. The proposed pond will be equipped with filters and a floating wetlands system to improve water quality. Inlets on Oak Marsh Drive, which cannot be piped to the pond due to system geometry, will be provided with skimmers to reduce sediment and nutrient content. The project will be designed and permitted by City Staff. Continue reading