Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stormwater upgrades will help keep Naples Bay clean

Environment News Service: The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board has authorized $1.5 million for a city of Naples stormwater improvement project benefiting Naples Bay. The district funds are part of the total $7.7 million effort. The funding will allow the city to implement a broad range of stormwater improvements, including pump station upgrades, storm sewer upgrades, swale restoration, creation of a water quality park and control structure upgrades.

"The City of Naples is taking steps to improve stormwater quality before it enters Naples Bay," said Clarence Tears, director of the management district's Big Cypress Basin Service Center. "The cumulative impacts of each of these incremental projects will greatly benefit our precious coastal communities."

Located in Collier County, Naples extends over nine miles along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. About 16 percent of the city is comprised of bays, waterways, channels and other critically important surface water bodies. Due to the city's location in a low-lying coastal environment, as well as substantial build-out and ongoing redevelopment activities, some areas of the city are more prone than others to nuisance and damaging flooding and also to a degradation of the quality of surface water bodies.

The city of Naples passed a stormwater ordinance effective December 17, 2007 that specifies minimum stormwater design criteria for new buildings and details best management practices for property owners. Chronic flooding in the Naples downtown area is the result of aging and insufficient stormwater infrastructure, said Tears. Improvements to the infrastructure are under way, although stormwater runoff continues to carry pollutants into Naples Bay.

The goals of the proposed stormwater improvements are to prevent flooding through the use of increased retention and detention, and to improve the stormwater collection features, while decreasing the quantity and improving the quality of waters released to Naples Bay. This stormwater improvement project is part of the Naples Bay Surface Water Improvement and Management Plan, approved in 2006, which identifies projects that can be implemented to enhance the health of this impacted system.

Naples is surrounded by major land reserves, including the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Picayune Strand State Forest.

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