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Pasco County to clear culverts, restore drainage in Thousand Oaks

County crews will begin clearing out a series of culverts and other stormwater control devices in Trinity next week to relieve flooding concerns in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood.

Most of the maintenance was the responsibility of various homeowner associations but had been done only sporadically over the past several years. Now the county has agreements with the groups to perform the work itself.

"It appears like (the maintenance projects) could have a significant benefit," said Michele Baker, chief assistant county administrator. She hopes the work will be done by a Nov. 5 meeting with residents to discuss long-term solutions.

The work is part of a list of suggestions from Adam Smith Enterprises, the developer for much of Trinity. Baker said some of the suggestions, including a new swale at the corner of Seven Springs and Mitchell boulevards, would still require permits from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Lew Friedland, Adam Smith's president, compared the situation to a funnel that is almost entirely plugged. He noted a series of four 48-inch culverts that are underneath a road heading into the Chelsea Place neighborhood. He said three of them are completely filled with debris.

"Is there any wonder why it takes a longer period of time for the water to get out?" he said.

Shawn Foster, a lobbyist for Adam Smith Enterprises who also lives in Trinity, said the maintenance was initially the responsibility of a master homeowner association but was turned over to individual neighborhood groups about a dozen years ago. Most groups either didn't have the expertise to perform the work or put it off because of tight budgets.

"If it would've been properly maintained, it would've alleviated quite a bit of that flooding," he said.

Foster said the company is also working with Pinellas County to clean up some areas along the portion of Trinity Boulevard that runs into that county.

At next month's meeting, Baker said, officials will discuss the costs and benefits of several other options to improve the drainage. Officials hope to pick the best options to build by mid December.

Pasco's stormwater fee allows for routine maintenance of major drainage systems. The county also performs occasional work on smaller systems for acute problems, including the issues at Thousand Oaks.

Over the long term, Baker said, the county should rethink the system that requires homeowner groups to provide maintenance on the smaller systems. If the county takes over that work, she said, it would need a much larger staff.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco County to clear culverts, restore drainage in Thousand Oaks 10/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 9:01pm]
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