DADE CITY — The city has accepted major state funding to finally begin addressing flooding issues that have plagued Dade City's downtown for years.
City commissioners this week unanimously accepted a $400,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that will go toward stormwater improvements in downtown, where even small amounts of rain can send water running through the streets.
The state awarded the grant as a result of a 2012 stormwater master plan Dade City completed that outlined $4 million in improvements that are needed citywide to combat flooding, nearly $2 million of which are identified to rectify problems downtown.
Having a master plan in place, however, did not address how to fund the improvements, leading the commission to take steps to raise money. It enacted a storm-water fee in 2014 and decided to seek state grants.
The DEP grant will be used for a project to build a large storm sewer line to move stormwater to existing Florida Department of Transportation and CSX railroad drainage pipes and expand city-owned Irvin Pond.
"The city pond will be expanded to control, treat and slowly release the stormwater to the receiving system. Proposed improvements will aid in eliminating street, parking, and stormwater flooding . . . and relieve several city blocks from existing recurrent flooding once all phases have been fully executed," city engineer Joseph DeBono wrote in the memo to the commission.
The city has until April 30, 2019, to keep complete the project, according to its agreement with the state.
Commissioners also dealt with funding for another flood-prone area in the city by approving an additional $3,400 for more design work to figure out how to deal with flooding that troubles the Howard Avenue area.
The funding will be added to $20,000 being spent on engineering efforts to determine the best way to combat flooding in that area. Two solutions that have been identified are increasing the pumping capacity of a lift station there, as well as expanding a stormwater pond along Howard Avenue at the Hardy Trail, according to Dade City reports.
DeBono told the commission that staffers and engineers have concluded that expanding the pond should be the first course of action, so the increased funding will go toward completing geotechnical work, design, drainage reports and construction cost estimates.
Mayor Camille Hernandez acknowledged that bringing the stormwater master plan to fruition will not be a "quick fix," but she expressed excitement over the progress.
"This is all part of a bigger picture," Hernandez said.