Retrofitting Stormwater Infrastructure and Celery Fields Restoration: Lessons Learned
Title: Retrofitting Stormwater Infrastructure and Celery Fields Restoration: Lessons Learned
Discussion Group Leader: JP Marchand
Main Idea: It's important to work with the natural characteristics of the watershed in restoration and retrofitting projects. It's also important to look for opportunities that are beneficial in several areas. The project in the Celery Fields is an example: it is generating great habitat, and is generating fabulous amounts of tourist dollars.
Important Questions Raised
- Were these benefits [from the Celery Fields restoration] predicted?
- No, the main idea behind the project was flood control. We also saw some advantages in enhancing the economic development of the Fruitville Corridor, but we didn't forsee the tourist revenue. That took us by surprise.
- What about the mountain? [reference to an elevated area built with landfill from the infill from the Celery Fields restoration].
- Originally, it was not part of the plan; all of the dirt was supposed to be removed. The county advertised it, but couldn't get anyone to take it. So, in a hurry to finish the project, they just pushed it to the sideline
- No one had any ideas about creating elevation in the area?
- No, not originally. But when we had a meeting about recreational opportunities, everyone said they loved it. They said, “there's nothing like that in Florida!” You can get up high, get a view. So that's an example of unintended benefits of working with the natural environment.
- Is it true that you don't get a lot of bang for your buck in these kind of projects?
- There is money out there; you just need to demonstrate that your project will be effective.
- How do you create public-private partnerships?
- It's hard. When I left the state I was determined to start one; it was hard but I did it, and in doing so I blazed the trail. The next ones were easier, and I think as people start doing this more it will become easier. You have to build a mass base of support by putting money into it. Everyone sees these projects as hassles; they don't care if they benefit from someone else adopting the same rules that they do, they need immediate benefit, and that means money.
- In the celery fields, did you do anything other than put in lakes in the restoration?
- There were several dikes that diverted water...There are three gates where the water gets out and into the area. In the summer, the gates are open. The water still has to meander through the fields, and the water is kept relatively low, so storage is low when it rains. Then after a while you open the gates and let it out water. In the winter you raise the gates a little for ground recharge and habitat.
- Big restoration and retrofitting projects are not necessarily the best target, although they are generally pursued the most frequently. What is more important is to focus on the development of the coast, which is split into little private properties, thus little projects. The problem with that is it sends an image of corruption, because people see all these tax dollars going into one private piece of property. However, you can solve that with a conservation easement, to make sure the property owner doesn't hijack the project. You can install sediment catches before the sewage hits the bay; most chemicals are attached to pieces of sediment, so you can clean the water effectively and quickly that way. You can also put in pervious pavements. The Hudson Bayou project is a good example of this.