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Plan Ahead for Aging Infrastructure

Author: Bob Foster, President of Citrus Glen

In August 2012, during the middle of Tropical Storm Isaac, I found myself watching the floodwater rise in my community. With the authorization of the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD), I opened Citrus Glen’s discharge control structure. This was a challenge as the lake had risen above the dock and weir mechanism.

Several hours later, when the flooding did not recede, I inspected the end of the pipe that discharged into the canal and realized the pipe was bent and restricting the flow of water. After discussing the pipe with LWDD, they agreed to help repair the pipe but they felt it was not the sole cause of the community’s flooding. District personnel asked how long it had been since the community had its drainage infrastructure cleaned and inspected. It was at this point that I learned Citrus Glen’s pipes, inlets, lakes, and swales, belonged to the community and I had a lot more to learn about the community’s role in flood control.

Over the course of the following year, I was fortunate to locate the original underground pipe design. Citrus Glen had just over one mile of underground pipes, but no one knew what condition they were in. The community hired a contractor to inspect and clean the drainage system for the first time in 25 years. A video inspection illustrated areas where tree roots had infiltrated the pipes. If these pipes failed, potential catastrophic damage could occur!

For a second opinion, the community hired an engineer to review the video. He determined that approximately 50% of the pipes needed immediate attention. Our solution was to install CIPP sleeves (CIPP – Cured in Place Piping). This was the least expensive and most favorable option since the CIPP product could be installed without having to trench around homes or dig-up sidewalks and roads in order to replace the failing pipes.

The work was completed in 2015 at a cost of $905,000. This was an expense our Board had not planned for, but Citrus Glen now has a drainage system that is projected to last 50 plus years. In addition to repairs to the pipes, we raised the structure two feet and installed a new aluminum dock with handrails for safer access.

I share this story because aging drainage infrastructure is a problem that many communities are unaware of nor are they planning for such repairs in their budgets. I encourage communities to learn about their drainage system and begin reserving funds for this critical infrastructure. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” you will have to upgrade.
 
For questions, contact:
Bob Foster, Citrus Glen Board President