Another City of Pensacola project under DEP investigation

By Duwayne Escobedo

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has found that construction on the Bill Gregory Park stormwater pond near the corner of Navy Boulevard and W Street is polluting Bayou Chico.

DEP received a complaint from Bayou Chico resident Chris Harris on May 10 and sent one of its inspectors to investigate the white turbid water discharge that day. Samples from several bayou locations “exceeded the surface water quality criteria,” DEP said.

In addition, DEP inspected the site and discovered a lack of BMP’s, which include poor silt fence maintenance, un-stabilized soil throughout the site, improper dewatering pump filter bag placement that was located in a creek and not on a proper pad, and no temporary retention basins.
DEP was informed by Pensacola officials of a second discharge over this past weekend.

DEP met with the contractor onsite today to further address the compliance issues and will continue to closely monitor the situation, reported Brandy Smith, DEP Northwest Florida external affairs manager.

The state environmental agency did send an email Thursday to the contractor, Pensacola and Escambia County detailing its findings and compliance concerns.  

This is the second City of Pensacola stormwater project that has been investigated by DEP since the first of the year. Last January, DEP cited the City and its contractor for several violations at the Government Street/Corrine Jones Stormwater project. Read more 1 and 2.


2 thoughts on “Another City of Pensacola project under DEP investigation

  1. Isn’t there a Project Manager for this project? He or she needs to pay attention to what happens after a heavy rain storm. I had my site contractor repair and even double up his silt fencing after storms caused problems during my last project. Sometimes a storm will overload the fencing, requiring clean up and repairs. We added some hay bales at areas that were prone to leakage and that stopped the runoff from getting away from the site.

  2. This reminds me of my 2008 discussion with Matt Dimitroff. who had been the city’s Environmental Services Division Administrator and the city staff lead in supporting the Environmental Advisory Board. In early 2008, the city made the decision to get rid of the Environmental Services Division that I believe was part of what was then the Community Development Department. I don’t know the extent to which the City Council was told what was being done and why. When I spoke with Dimitroff he told me that the Environmental Services Division was being abolished because “he” had been raising too many concerns with environmental issues related to the Community Maritime Park economic development project. Unlike many people hired to work in city hall, Dimitroff was an actual professional with expertise in his area. Dimitroff told me that he was told they would find him another job in city government. He decided to enter the private sector and has been very successful in environmental consulting. At some later point, the city entered into an interlocal agreement with Escambia County to provide certain types of environmental services. If that agreement is still in effect, then (in theory) Escambia County is involved in some way in any environmental problems in the city. When you look citywide at all of the problems we have to include some of the most obvious ones such as Carpenter Creek being used as an open cesspool, you have to imagine that if Dimitroff had stayed on the job he might have brought these environmental issues forward. I think the institutional disrespect for the environment is deeply engrained in city hall. Several years back, I spoke with a person in city hall raising concerns about environmental issues to include those related to Carpenters Creek. That person than vanished. I was told they were fired because they kept bringing up issues related to violation of environmental laws. In city hall, the “reward” for doing your job is to be fired. The issues related to Dimitroff took place when the city had a Council-Manager form of government. The second incident described took place under the Mayor-Council form of government. The common ingredient in both cases was a very weak, ineffective and inept City Council that collectively has not been up to the task for years. We see the negative impact of lack of legislative oversight over and over so no one should be surprised that the city’s environment is a victim tool.

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