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Weeklong Rains Test New Pumps

Press release from Alachua County

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – The Alachua County Public Works Department staff has been working around the clock since last Thursday, August 25, 2022, operating several new pumps installed this summer. Staff started the pumps on NW 98th Street, adjacent to the Hills of Santa Fe Subdivision, Thursday morning, August 25. They were shut down this morning for maintenance. 

Many neighborhoods in our community have legacy flooding issues due to developers’ installing inadequate stormwater infrastructure decades ago. These developers followed the rules of the time, but current regulations are much more stringent.

According to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s rainfall data, the western side of Gainesville received between 10.8 and 12.5 inches this month, with 6.6 inches falling within five days last week. History shows that multi-day rain events like this can cause more severe flooding than single-day events such as tropical storms or hurricanes. Multi-day rain events never give the upstream retention ponds on private property time to recover their storage volume by percolating the water into the ground. Once the ponds are full, the stormwater cascades downhill, overflowing ditches and across private property as it flows to the lowest point in the watershed, where the pump stations are located.

“This was a good test of the new pump stations,” said Public Works Director Ramon D. Gavarrete, P.E. “The flooding would have been much worse if we had not made the recent improvements. Similar storm events in the past have flooded homes and roads for days. I am very proud of my dedicated staff.”  

Residents in the Hills of Santa Fe Subdivision did call to report flooding. One house had water enter a bedroom, which is at a lower elevation than the rest of the house because it was formerly a garage. The other reported upstream conveyance issues caused water to flow across their yards and into their homes.

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Staff monitored and operated eight different pump stations throughout the day and night to keep the stormwater at bay. Thanks to their efforts, no roads had to be closed in any of these watershed basins. The County did, however, receive a few calls and emails from residents concerned that the pumps were not running. Staff kept the pumps running except when they had to be shut down for periodic maintenance or when the pump stations were dry. 

“Sometimes, the pumps must be cycled on and off to keep from running the pumps dry. The pumps can only be operated when there is water to pump,” said Donald E. Clifton, Superintendent of the Road Division. “We learned a lot from this event and look forward to implementing several ideas to improve the systems. We are headed in the right direction.” 

  • I live in hills of Santa Fe one house being flood is one two many
    Now they are good to letting a top golf build next door where will that water end up plus look at more apartments along 98th street all that takes up land that now water soaks into it’s time to put the brakes on building in this area

  • Have they added retention ponds at the new apt. complexes? And consider adding ditches between homes to carry more water away from houses, into deeper ponds at the golf course (dig them deeper)? Use underground pipes under the greens.

  • Well , no doubt Ken Cornell and the rest of the Commisoners scurry away when their Build it, Tax it strategy and let the taxpayers, homeowners, Public works department deal with thier reckless density approvals that keep coming. That is what happens when they Lead from Behind. That is not real smart leadership. Time for a change folks, November.

  • Unfortunately? Meadowbrook neighborhood is the recipient of water from Hills of Santa Fe and many others. Receiving water from over 500 acres around us. Homes are being flooded!!

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