Pinecrest to study flooding

The village of Pinecrest is taking first steps in planning for a perennial South Florida problem that’s likely to worsen in the coming years – flooding.

The Village Council agreed last week to hire the consulting firm A.D.A. Engineering to develop a comprehensive stormwater master plan for the city. The firm’s services will cost $342,677, with the first $100,000 being paid out this fiscal year, and what remains being budgeted in next year.

With Mayor Cindy Lerner and council member James McDonald away at the Florida Power & Light hearing in Tallahassee, the council approved the deal 3-0.

A.D.A.’s mission will be about fact-finding and planning. Its job will be to create a complete inventory of Pinecrest’s current flood-mitigating infrastructure, to assess where that’s not enough, what updates are needed, and how much it will all cost.

Council member Bob Ross put it this way at the meeting: “I imagine we’re going to spend a third of a million dollars to find out that we need to spend millions more.”

Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez agreed that the cost of updates would likely ultimately be in the millions, and although staff would likely ask for a hike in the stormwater utility fee at the next budget workshop, hiring a consulting firm – however expensive – was a necessary step.

“You don’t know what you need until you go through this process,” she said.

Although landlocked, the village experiences periodic flooding from canals and has problems dealing with runoff from newer constructions built at higher elevations.

Current stormwater infrastructure in Pinecrest includes “a combination of outflows to canals, French drains and drainage wells,” Gomez said in an email last week.

A.D.A. should take between 10-12 months to complete their task. According to Gomez, the full scope of the firm’s services will include:

• Performing an initial evaluation and benchmark inventory of the village’s existing stormwater infrastructure, and mapping stormwater and natural drainage basins.

• Looking at the current level of service of existing systems to identify problem areas and reviewing previous related studies and plans.

• Collecting additional data to address key gaps, including field survey and flow measurements.

• Creating usable documents that can be easily referenced, revised, updated and used as tools to aid in fiscal evaluations, planning and policy decisions.

• Selecting, developing and running a model of the existing stormwater drainage system for current and future conditions to determine flows and surface water elevations and to identify hydraulic constraints and trouble spots for the 24-hour, 5-year, 10-year, 25-year, 50-year and 100-year storm events for stormwater drainage basins throughout the village.

• Identifying the impact of sea-level rises and the effects of global warning on the village’s drainage system and recommending adaptive measures.

• Developing a prioritized Capital Improvement Plan to address system deficiencies. The CIP will include a five-year fiscal analysis for the cost of all necessary infrastructure updates and recommend a schedule for expenditures.

Pinecrest already participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which allows homeowners, renters and business owners to get federally-subsidized flood insurance. Pinecrest planning director Stephen Olmsted said that additional infrastructure improvements should help the city get an NFIP Community Rating System classification, which carries more discounted rates.

Nearby Palmetto Bay hired consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to develop a stormwater master plan back in 2004 to the tune of $170,000. Cutler Bay budgeted $200,000 in grant money to hire the same firm in 2007.

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