Bradenton officials begin planning flood reduction measures

Areas in blue show potential flooding areas during a 25-year flood event, or 8 inches or more of rain in a 24-hour period in Ward 5.
Areas in blue show potential flooding areas during a 25-year flood event, or 8 inches or more of rain in a 24-hour period in Ward 5.

A two-year $700,000 watershed management study is coming to an end and city officials continue to ask for public feedback before finalizing a key tool against potential flooding during a major storm event.

The study produced a model highlighting areas of the city potentially impacted by a storm producing 8 or more inches of rain during 24 hours. The model will be used for future flood-reduction measures.

“The purpose of the study was to identify ponding areas,” said Tracy Dayton, project engineer for the Tampa-based Jones Edmunds, which conducted the study. “We all know certain areas of the city ponds, but we wanted to quantify the amount of water in these areas and then post solutions to reduce ponding.”

Jones Edmunds collected historical data from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which funded half of the study, as well as from city and Manatee County records. All data was entered into a hydrological model that shows much of the city has potential flooding issues.

“The results provide us with a level of confidence that our model is producing real-world results for a real-world storm,” said Dayton.

Kim Clayback, Bradenton public works project engineer, said once the model is finalized, the city will “develop conceptual high-level projects and ask how can we produce those projects in the city.”

Funding is key, according to Carl Callahan, city administrator.

“There’s no magic bullet that takes care of this other than funding,” he said. “The first step is to see what needs to be done. These projects are so expensive so when you spend money, you have to be sure you are making a difference.”

Callahan said any major storm is going to cause problems for the city. He would rather look at the more commonly affected areas during smaller storms.

“Three to four inches of rain are relatively common and to me, that’s what we need to look at first,” he said. “The general public understands that if a big storm comes in, we all have problems. The proximity to the river and natural flows are all big impediments. I want to know what happens when 3 inches of rain falls and can I get around town? I think we have to bite off increments that we can handle.”

Dayton said an additional benefit of the model is it will to simulate how a future development will impact stormwater flow.

“The model will be able to tell if the discharge from a new development is something the city system can handle or whether it will require the developer to do its part,” said Dayton.

Clayback said the goal is to focus on older areas of the city, but the key to long-term flood mitigation is how future development is handled. She pointed out the Tidewater development on the eastern fringe of the city limits shows no flooding concerns.

“That’s because it was built after 1984,” she said. “Most of the city was built prior to 1984 before all of today’s rules and regulations were in place.”

Public Works Director Jim McLellan said the deadline for public input is July 8 and the model would be finalized by the end of the year.

“We’ll use public input to finetune the model and then use the model to cost out those projects that need to be prioritized,” he said.

To provide information to the city, contact Clayback at 941-708-6300, ext. 224.