Rain, rain, go this way
Nearly 20 years ago, Rockledge, Fla., weathered a severe flood from nearly 13 inches of rain. The event left hundreds of residents unable to reach their homes and temporarily hindered access by emergency vehicles. City officials called for a stormwater improvement plan and took measures to safeguard the city during future storms.
Rockledge contracted with Cambridge, Mass.-based engineering firm CDM to evaluate short- and long-term needs for the existing stormwater management system and develop a plan for flood control, water quality improvement and wetlands management. The resulting phased program integrated water quality, parks and aesthetics initiatives.
The program began by retrofitting and expanding Barton Park Manor Lake from 7 acres to 10 acres to increase detention capacity and water treatment on the city’s east side, the most flood-prone area. Subsequent phases expanded the park and lake by 55 acres and enhanced an additional 40 acres of contiguous wetlands. An $800,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped pay for the expansion, which was completed in September 2006. The plan design also included an arrangement in which the construction contractor purchased excavated fill material from the city, resulting in revenue of approximately $400,000. The work added valuable park space to the city and improved water quality in the Indian River Lagoon, an important environmental resource for the city and the state.
Because of the lake’s expansion, Rockledge was able to strike a deal with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to treat and store stormwater runoff from adjacent US-1 highway, which FDOT was widening last year. Instead of constructing treatment ponds in the US-1 corridor for stormwater, engineers designed a system to channel the water to the city’s regional treatment facility, which removes trash and sediment and then discharges into Barton Park Manor Lake. The arrangement generated $1.2 million in revenue for the city and saved FDOT several millions on the highway widening project.
For the western watershed, the city completed construction of the 4.5-acre Levitt Stormwater Park and the 65-acre Dr. Robert Anderson Park last fall. The two parks attenuate and treat water to improve the quality of discharges into mitigation wetlands along the floodplain of the St. Johns River. Constructed near flood-prone areas and connecting canals, the parks also feature walking and jogging trails, bridges and bird-watching stations.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Florida Department of Transportation; Cocoa, Fla.; Brevard County, Fla.; FEMA
Cambridge, Mass.-based CDM
September 2006 for Levitt Park and summer 2007 for Barton Park Manor offsite mitigation
Barton Park Manor regional facility (net income of nearly $2,400,000), Levitt Stormwater Park ($769,000)