Ask the mayor of Palm Coast

Regrading swales is just the beginning of the process in Palm Coast

Resident asks Mayor David Alfin: 'Why does the city stormwater department need so much money to just dig out our swales?'

  • By
  • | 4:35 a.m. March 21, 2024
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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The following question was recently asked by resident. The mayor's response follows.

Why does the city stormwater department need so much money to just dig out our swales? We all pay a lot of money every month for stormwater maintenance fees. It can’t cost that much for digging and then replacing the sod. Where does all that money go?

Our responsibilities for maintenance of our city’s stormwater system are so much more complex than just fixing swales. We have a massive structure to address: When the water flows through our 1,200 miles of operational swales, it conveys through 58 miles of canals, 14 weirs and 177 miles of ditches to reach the Intracoastal Waterway or the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, water passes under many roads through 3,300 pipes. It costs money to maintain this intricately connected system so that water flows efficiently and does not cause flooding to any home. 

Aside from repairing swales and replacing sod, we have additional expert staff and crews who are essential to helping coordinate the processes and keeping them running congruently and effortlessly.

First, we have an operations group that handles numerous inspections.  These inspections include work in the right of way (areas along the side of the roadways), swale inspections, new driveway inspections, drainage plans on new homes and drainage impacts from pools and other structures. The operations group also includes surveyors and swale specialists to ensure the swales, ditches, and canals are at the correct elevation so they can flow in the right direction within the right of way or city property.

Second, we have a staff of engineers to review and create designs when pipes or other infrastructure must be replaced or modified. These folks are also responsible for management of a variety of capital improvement projects across the city.

Adding together the swale maintenance crews, operations group and engineering staff, Palm Coast has a total of 64 employees who keep our system up and running. City Council recently agreed to a modest raise in stormwater fees to cover the rising costs of staff and equipment.

With this information, you now know that whenever you see our swale crews digging and repairing along our streets, you’re seeing the beginning of a multi-faceted process that is preserving our whole system to keep water away from our homes and businesses. Please feel free to call any of our department members If you have any questions.

Email your questions or letters to the editor, to [email protected].


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