When it rains, the phones start ringing at Palm Coast City Hall. That’s when problems arise, along with the water. The city has 1,200 miles of swales, 177 miles of ditches, 58 miles of fresh water canals and 26 miles of salt water canals. They all can have problems.
The city has decided to take a “big picture” look at repairing and improving the drainage system by creating a Master Plan, with the help of a consulting engineering firm. The plan, made possible by an increase in stormwater fees the city made last fall, will address aging infrastructure and years of population growth.
Citizens got a chance to learn about the Master Plan at a pair of public outreach meetings March 25 at the Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE. Attendees spoke with stormwater managers and customer service representatives, and marked maps showing where they had drainage problems.
The hurricanes of 2016 and 2017 let the city know overall drainage improvements were needed, said Steve Flanagan, Community Development director.
“The City Council saw we weren’t keeping up with stormwater the way we should, so they decided to act,” he said.
The hurricanes also caused a backlog in needed work. Donald Schrager, construction site supervisor, said Public Works crews had to spend several months picking up debris, which took them away from drainage systems.
Another problem is that the pipes in Palm Coast were installed 40 years ago and are starting to fail. Four failed last year, Flanagan said.
The Master Plan is set to be presented to the City Council this summer. In the meantime, city crews have started an accelerated maintenance program, beginning in the W-section, according to Cindy Lane, communications and marketing manager. The ditch line from Woodside Drive south to Pine Lakes Parkway has been re-established, and drainage pipes are being cleaned. The city is already seeing positive effects on the drainage system even with several weeks to go until completion of the project, Lane said. Plans are now being developed to address other localized drainage issues in the E-, F- and R-sections in the near future, she said.
The Stormwater Division is also reassessing the city’s swale maintenance program, Lane said.
One of those who talked to a service representative was Maureen O’Hara, who has a unique problem. The ditch that runs by her house has been eroding for a long time.
“I’m losing property,” she said. She has often been in contact with the city without getting results, but is optimistic after talking with a representative at the meeting.
“I definitely feel someone will come out,” she said.
Lori Powell said her problem is that the pipes under some of the driveways on her street were not put in correctly when the houses were built and were not inspected properly. Water builds up in the swales. She said she has made many calls to the city and still hopes to get the problem resolved.
When an audience member mentioned a specific problem at the meeting, they were referred to a customer representative.
For information, call 386-986-2360.