Incompetence: sewers and storm drains fail to perform yet again in the Tampa Bay area after normal rains

Tropical Depression 9 (TD9) hit the Tampa Bay area on Wednesday. According to BayNews 9, the rains were actually just the “indirect effects” of TD9, a storm which will only arrive tomorrow. When it does arrive, TD9 will bring even more rain. A normally joyous Labor Day weekend may bring misery and recovery for many.

There are many reports of flooding (a few examples are given below), sewers system overflows and storm drains not keeping up. There are areas in Pinellas County that have experienced chronic flooding for 40 years. Also, citizens have not forgotten last year’s flooding and standing water in Hillsborough County. But why do these problems never seem to get fixed? We attempt to answer that question below.

flooding01_tyroneIn St. Pete, there is flooding in the Tyrone area (pictured right), and it’s likely only a matter of time before we hear of yet another spill of raw sewage from St. Pete. Should it go in to Clam Bayou, as it did earlier this year, Gulfport city council will come under intense pressure to find a way to stop these repeated sewer overflows. Through lawsuits, if necessary.

The off-ramp from I-275 to 54th Avenue South in St. Pete was closed Wednesday morning. Reports tell of an apartment complex  flooding in Largo. This flooding along Vonn Road is on supposedly high ground, so there seems to be insufficient storm drainage.

“Through the City of Largo’s “Wet Weather Project“, we are spending almost $70 million addressing flooding in Largo”, said Largo City Commissioner Curtis Holmes. “The work is about 60% done. I’ve been pushing both storm drains and sewers for years, but only now do  we have a commission and a city manager who believe, as I do, that flooding control is a critical municipal government function.”

“There are definitely flooding problems in the Tampa Bay area, and Largo is taking very aggressive action to remedy its problem”, Holmes said. “Other elected officials in other municipalities would do well to follow our model.”

aen_fiddleHowever, Largo seems to be the exception to the rule. Sewers and storm drains need urgent attention in the Tampa Bay area, yet bay area politicians spend more time pushing taxpayer-funded pro baseball stadiums and light rail than planning for the next moderately heavy rainfall. This is expecially true in the two largest cities: Tampa and St. Petersburg. Voters are therefore unlikely to see anything but fiddlers on the roof as citizens burn over the recurring flooding and its harmful effects.

In the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, the fiddler is a metaphor for a hard life in an 1890’s Russian shtetl: trying to scratch out a pleasant tune, while not breaking your neck. In the case of the Tampa Bay area fiddler politicians, they’re trying to staying away from the rising water….and rising tide of voter anger.

As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide.

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