In the wake of the flood, Miami Beach studies better drainage. Sigh

Driving in Friday's monsoon.

In the wake of Friday evening’s flood, which turned Belle Isle into a lake and made the West Avenue/Alton Road corridor pretty much impassible for the second time in a year, you might be pleased to know that the Miami Beach City Commission is talking about spending money on storm sewer improvements at its meeting Wednesday.

You might be, but you probably won’t be.

The commission will discuss spending a little more than $1 million to pay for engineering studies and how to finance a master plan to make the city’s stormwater system cleaner and less flood prone. They won’t be voting on hiring contractors to fix the flooding problem. That’s the NEXT step.

From the city administration report:

This project will create a model of the existing stormwater system and will identify those basins that are experiencing reduced levels of service. The model will allow the city to evaluate cost-effective stormwater infrastructure improvements, remediate excessive flooding, prioritize stormwater basins, and ensure continued compliance with regulatory agencies. This work will also allow the City to better evaluate draining hot spots and protect the city from flooding resulting from high tidal conditions….

How’s that for a call to action?

You can read the entire report here: Citywide Comprehensive Stormwater Management Master Plan -1

The firm the city administration recommends is Camp Dresser and McKee.

It’s enough to make you buy a Hummer.

16 responses to “In the wake of the flood, Miami Beach studies better drainage. Sigh

  1. I agree a new comprehensive look at City-wide drainage is necessary, especially considering the current methods for improving the system is not being permitted by DEP…but I no not agree with spending money from a future bond to pay for it….I am not sure I am happy with the way the last bond money was spent, and believe we need to look harder at that before we approve new bonds and especially before we start spending money from new ones before we even borrow that money…..

  2. If it has been ages since they learned about the problem and haven’t come up with a plan to FIX this yet, this allocation of funds for ONLY a study proves why they are able to sleep well at night.

  3. Pingback: Page not found « Belle Isle Blog

  4. Pingback: Beach to spend $1 million for some flood relief « Belle Isle Blog

  5. part of the issue is that the local sea level/water table is higher than it used to be, about an 11″ in rise since the 1930s, according to the government, as reported on NPR, and it is still rising…

    the old system simply wasn’t designed to anticipate that kind of sea level rise, when the tide is high, where is the water to go when the storm drains are underwater?

  6. This is very true Irene and Aaron. The fact is this is merely a study that was approved, but to fix the problem, sea level rise must be anticipated at an even more rapid rate, inventory of what pipes are working and which are not must be combined with pump stations and a host of deep injection wells and one more thing, the City must be able to educate the policy makers so that we stop painting things pink and yellow and start focusing on this most critical issue that the City faces. What Aaron says is true, the 1930s and 40s infrastructure is below water at Biscayne Bay outfalls so these must be built much higher and ontop of this stormwater must become stored at many levels inside our fair city, something that has been ignored by scores of commissions and past mayors. The days of fat cat developers building and evacuating our City must now turn to controlled development and retro fitting existing property. Miami Beach has grown way past its infrastructure and now the residents and businesses here are at risk until the plan is designed and built. The City must also be far more cooperative with the private sector and residents who have been washed out by these repetitive floods. Its now become a moral imperative lest we become the next New Orleans, I am trying very hard to prevent that and have long term planning. Please join me and come to commission meetings until this is built in the ground and funded properly! Drew

  7. At this point, if the City would retrofit all of it’s outfalls with flap gates, it would help with the backwash…..to a point, of course. The root of all this goes to the way the GO and other bond money was programmed. Most of the funds were eaten up by endless community meetings and revisions to plans and consultants fees. Then, of course, park work was done before neighborhood work, and many of those facilities were designed and re-designed multiple times, some even constructed multiple times, which ate up even more money. Instead of the City taking a comprehensive look at the City-wide needs over a decade ago, planners subdivided the City onto 13 “neighborhoods” offering up a “Chinese Menu” of improvements for the residents to pick from. The story gets worse, but I will refrain for now, because it is Sunday morning, and raining to boot! I need to check the radar and make sure my sandbags are in place…..

  8. Babs, I hear you loud and clear and no one is more cynical than I am, having thrown away millions of hard earned dollars just cleaning up and rebuilding after the City’s round table of Commissioners and past Mayors have sat on their high chairs not even understanding the problem. There are some large changes looming. I too have issue with how the players have spent bond money but this job is being monitored and checked by people very in tune with the community who are not part of Government. I will share this with you. I am personally committed to seeing the City of Miami Beach change its values. I will stand up at the Commission meetings and educate the Policy Makers and the main thing we need is people from the business and resident community to be proactive at these meetings. This is the first comprehensive study EVER. Make no mistake, I would never approve of a single dollar of money in these piecemeal projects and frankly the Parks projects will need to come to a halt because we are going to have to dig up storm water retention ponds and the City is going to have to store 2.5 inches of surface water, and then it can discharge into various points including Biscayne Bay. I am meeting with the State of Florida who has been negligent as well, abandoning both the City and its residents to no end, and I am giving it to them big time. Even the State of Florida has bs’d the people inside the City for years but no more. I am tracking every meeting and insisted that the top International and Coastal Engineers be involved. Senior Staff at City of Miami Beach have been challenged by the past interests of fat cat developers and the political agendas of certain players. The resident population and business and land owners have to hold the City and the State Accountable otherwise we will wash away and be worse than New Orleans. This is a function of survival. By the way, there is no flood insurance left in 90% of the U.S. including Miami Beach. If you own a home, your flood insurance right now is no good. Congress has left it to expire May 31, 2010, a second away from the Hurricane Season. This new information would otherwise be front page news if it were not for the oil spill in the Gulf.

  9. Sounds like you are a man with a plan , Drew, and I will do everything I can to support you, just let us know where to be and when!

    The flood insurance lapse is true and serious. If losses do occur during this time, the assistance will be more costly, since there are no policies in place, ergo no risk sharing. Uncle Sam will be left holding the bag again because Congress will pay the claims after the fact. How can they not?

  10. For the concerned citizens and property owners and residents of Miami Beach; This week has been very revealing. A detailed email has gone out to each of our Commissioners regarding the Comprehensive Storm Water Management Master Plan, which will be complete in under 5 months time. I have asked for each Commissioners position on this. What will follow this is the “design and build” phase and bidding the constructio work out. Solutions are abundant but still the people with the key to the City have been spending too much time on issues related to tennis courts and pink park benches and arbitrary ratios that determine how much of your house or building you can construct and in what style. What I have found out is that both the City and the State of Florida have abandoned their responsibilities in spades, but we knew this before and now we know more details. This should be no shocker given the state of beurocracies but once again, its up to the residents and business owners here to apply pressure where its most important. The outfall structures are pipes that are almost non descript and many bad things have happened over the years to them, including developers and mystery people filling in some of these outflows and no one from the State taking responsibility and the City having little outside oversight. Tiflex valves are only on a few of them so backwash keeps flowing into the streets and buildings. City of Miami Beach does not even have a website with transparency yet that shows what has been done routinely on maintaining these. The maintenance department is treated like a red headed step child and that must change too. All of that must change and the Commissioners have all been notifiedthat in 5 months time, they need to be prepared for the largest investment in the Citys last half century, beyond a doubt. If long term residents and City planners wish to keep us above water and not to become the next New Orleans or worse, the design and build of a series of below ground and above ground infrastructure pieces is required in accordance with the Plan to be published by Thanksgiving. One last housekeeping item is the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) remains unauthorized. Residents and Commercial Property owners are self insured and their premiums down the tubes. I read lots of issues, about Bus Routes and the like but think about one day waking up and going to the supermarket to find out that its closed due to flooding and going to the local gas station to find out that an oil plume has been created due to ground water and tidal penetration and the bay has overflowed into the streets through the 80 year old pipes and sewers. There is no insurance so the damages do not get repaired and businesses go out of business and home owners are wiped out that dont have a few extra million in CD’s , tax frees, and treasuries. Investment in real estate stops because the Beach has been irresponsible in how it self managed over the last 3 decades. Billions in losses, minimally – compare this to spending 350 million and getting the job done and being the City of the Future and planning for the next 75-100 years. I am a believeer in the second one and hope to see many of you at Commission Meetings helping to set priorities for our esteemed elected officials.

  11. Pingback: Residents ask Beach commissioners to address flooding issue « Belle Isle Blog

  12. Thank you Drew, keep us posted. Many of us would like to attend a meeting in relation to this issue.

  13. Irene,

    The best thing for us to do is to stay tuned in and be ready in force for Commission Meetings when much more of the “study” is omplete and the plan starts to take shape. Inventory is what CDM is tasked with obtaining right now, we are far from the point where our numbers and input have the weight that we must have. For example how many outfalls exist inside the whole City, where are they, what’s their condition and how many are functionless? How about thus one – how many retention ponds and storage vessels will need to be built from east to west and how much park space in acres is available to store water? How many deep injection wells exist and what’s their maintenance condition, and how many more need to be developed. Who will we as a City outsource some of these key jobs to? The Engineers need to come up with all of this! That’s what 5 months from now will reveal. I will keep posting as long as people are interested in reality as opposed to the Prozac infused City responses that have come from the past regimes! Happy 4th of July- we still live in America and can express ourselves and rejoice some! Drew

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