The fragile berm lining The Acreage’s northwest edge, the one that nearly breached during last year’s Tropical Storm Isaac, probably will be replaced by a new one.
The South Florida Water Management District has narrowed about a half dozen options for either repairing or replacing the berm to just two, both of which call for building a new berm.
The plan that makes the most sense to district engineers would cost an estimated $7.8 million, but the Water Resources Advisory Commission still needs to weigh in. That plans calls for creating a 5.6-mile berm west of Mecca Farms, along the MO Canal.
The Indian Trail Improvement District — which handles roads and canals for The Acreage — long ago started logging concerns about the threat of flooding from the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area because of the berm. It was built with excavated fill from the canal and never was meant to be a dam against water from the Corbett wetlands.
“Over the years, it’s just continued to kind of fall in,” said Jeff Kivett, the water district’s director of operations, engineering and construction. “It is our commitment to finish the design and get this berm completely constructed, so no one has to worry.”
Gov. Rick Scott had proposed $8 million go toward either fixing or replacing the berm and charged the water district with the work. The Legislature ultimately approved $4 million.
“We are so fortunate that the governor supported our continued concern about the need to isolate the Corbett area from our ITID landowners,” Lisa Tropepe, vice president the engineering company Engenuity Group that is working with Indian Trail, said in an email. “It is critical that the improvements are made quickly.”
Engenuity will turn over duties to a new firm, Stormwater J Engineering, in October. Stormwater J and Indian Trail’s board last week had a brief look at the water district’s proposal.
Indian Trail board member Michelle Damone has suggested her district commit some money and hire a lobbyist to secure more money from the state.
Indian Trail had planned about $688,000 in repairs to the berm, but that probably won’t happen if plans are being laid to replace it, said Jay Foy of Stormwater J.
The water district initially had expected 100 acres of wetlands to be damaged if it built a new berm. Now the favored plan shows only about 17 acres harmed.
“We’re still not down to where we want,” Kivett said, adding that, still, there is “a reasonable amount of mitigation.”
The second option would harm only 5 acres of wetlands but costs $20 million.
A weir — a barrier that changes the flow of water — that the water district installed after Isaac will remain in place to provide flood protection until a permanent solution is in place.
Conceptual design for the preferred option is done. Permits could be in hand by spring 2014, and construction could start by June, water district officials said.