Bonita Springs, FL
Officials from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the City of Bonita Springs, Lee County and Collier County met earlier this month and agreed to have a future public workshop to further discuss a proposal that could help shorten the duration of flooding in Bonita Springs and southern Lee County.
The proposal, which is still in the preliminary stages of being explored and modeled, would involve a drainage swale that is already planned to be constructed along the Bonita Beach Road and Logan Boulevard intersection improvement project in Bonita Springs.
The proposed swale and associated water control structures would potentially allow a limited amount of flood waters from the Bonita Beach Road area to flow south into the Big Cypress Basin in Collier County. The features would only be utilized when there is excess water in the Bonita Springs area and conditions in the Big Cypress Basin in Collier County would not be negatively impacted by accepting additional water.
The meeting earlier this month included Big Cypress Basin (BCB) Board Chairman and SFWMD Governing Board member Rick Barber, Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons, Collier County District 2 Commissioner Andy Solis and Lee County District 3 Commissioner Larry Kiker.
"While the exact details of the project still have to be determined before it could be considered for approval, this meeting shows how we can accomplish things and work together as partners," Barber said. "Agencies must commit to a partnership in order to get things done."
The elected officials agreed to schedule a joint public workshop at a future date to discuss the proposal as well as continue discussing broader watershed issues that affect the west coast and gather public input from all interested parties.
"I am committed to cooperating with our regional partners to continue vetting all proposals to alleviate stormwater flooding while protecting our sensitive inland waters and estuaries and preserving the integrity of our Collier County drainage systems," said Collier County Commissioner Andy Solis.
Water historically flowed south in this area until it was disconnected by development, routing that water to the Imperial River. A similar project to restore this natural flow was first proposed in a 1995 study of Lee County's watershed. The proposal would help provide some relief during flooding events for Bonita Springs residents.
"The meeting was a great first step at working together on this regional issue. Bonita Springs is committed to working with our partners and I look forward to the
future joint public workshop to further discuss options to assist with the flooding in Bonita Springs as well as to continue discussing broader watershed issues," said Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons.
Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker added "This meeting served as reaffirmation that work has been on-going to address flooding issues in our region, our county and the communities that were most affected. It is important to identify and remedy the specific and immediate needs while coordinating those efforts long-term. Since the two weather events of 2017, collective progress has been made, and I look forward to discussing results during public meetings."