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Flood control projects in works

(ran ET edition of TAMPA & STATE)

About $800,000 will be spent to stop erosion or improve drainage and water quality in parts of Belleair Beach, Seminole and at John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach.

In the second consecutive year of drought, possibly the driest year in the Tampa Bay area in more than 100 years, it may be hard to think about flooded streets.

But when the rain does come, residents in three communities can look forward to fewer puddles now that the Southwest Florida Water Management District has approved a series of projects to improve water quality and to reduce flooding.

The agency recently agreed to partner with Madeira Beach, Belleair Beach and Seminole to fund three projects totaling $800,000.

"It's an odd sort of time to be talking about it, but we know that the rain will happen," said Michael Molligan, spokesman for Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud. "We know that there will be flooding in these areas if improvements aren't made."

The largest of the three projects, which costs $651,909, is actually the third phase of an undertaking to reduce flooding in John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach.

Madeira Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield said there has never been much of a drainage system in John's Pass Village, a collection of restaurants and shops just north of John's Pass Bridge. When the city decided to renovate the complex, it also decided to add a drainage and filtration system to the overall plan.

"This is just part of that process to really allow it to be a complete redevelopment project," Bonfield said.

Workers will construct flood protection and water quality enhancements to the stormwater system along Boardwalk Place East, Fisherman's Alley and East End Lane.

The job also will include converting areas now used by vehicles to pedestrian walks to reduce oil and grease discharging into Boca Ciega Bay. Stormwater inlets and larger pipes will reduce flooding in the area, and debris collection units will reduce the amount of trash being discharged into the bay.

Madeira Beach and the Pinellas Anclote River Basin Board, an arm of Swiftmud, will share the $651,909 bill, with the city paying $426,909 and the board funding $225,000.

Work will begin no earlier than October and is expected to be completed a year later.

In Seminole, workers will improve a ditch on the north side of 68th Avenue that has steep side slopes and no curbs to control runoff from adjacent roads. This has led to an erosion of the slopes and the bottom of the ditch. The ditch discharges through an existing pond into Long Bayou, which flows into Boca Ciega Bay.

Swiftmud hopes to reduce flooding and improve the water quality of runoff entering Long Bayou by reshaping the slopes and installing ditch blocks and erosion control devices, Molligan said.

The $70,000 project will be shared equally by the Pinellas Anclote River Basin Board and Seminole, said Mitch Bobowski, the city's general services director. There is no start date yet, but work is expected to be finished by July 1, 2002.

A $70,000 project that will reduce flooding in Belleair Beach and will clean the water in the Intracoastal Waterway also will get under way soon. Workers will improve an inadequate stormwater infrastructure at 13th Street, which results in intermittent flooding and untreated runoff discharging into the Intracoastal Waterway, Molligan said.

Additional inlets and larger pipes will reduce the risk of flooding, he said. A sediment trap will be installed to capture sediment before it enters the waterway.

The project should be done by July 1, 2002.

_ Maureen Byrne can be reached at 445-4163 or at