Tanyard residents seek answers

By Sammi Sontag

At a Tanyard neighborhood meeting held at the Corinne Jones Resource Center Thursday evening, Pensacola City Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn listened to her constituents as they spoke about her district’s recent flooding.

Though the submerged west side of Pensacola was not supposed to be the dominant agenda topic, it became consequential as agitated residents spoke out about the recent storm water overflow.

“My land didn’t flood when Pensacola was hit with heavy rain, but the street did and the sewer was breached,” said Dr. Gloria Horning, who lives on DeVilliers Street. “I’ve been asking you since last year to address this problem, and I think now is the time to fix it.”

Pensacola has taken on 18 inches of rain over a 21-day span, which a sizeable amount of rainfall even for June, Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins told the residents.

Complaints were made regarding the stormwater pond on Government Street that is expected to be completed later this summer. Some Tanyard residents expressed concerns that retention pond failed to reduce high water levels and may have added to the flooded the streets.

“The stormwater pond will not necessarily solve all the issues,” Cannada-Wynn said. “And when you’ve had the volume of rain that we’ve had, the lower areas are going to have drainage issues. That’s just a part of having heavy rain.”

She added, “But my next step is to go back and review the city’s drainage improvement plan.”

The councilwomen said after she looks over the improvement plan, she will then try to work with the city staff and determine how to ultimately fix the storm water problem.

Laurie Murphy, executive director for Emerald Coastkeepers and certified drain water specialist, said the issues with flooding and drainage in Pensacola can be attributed to low-lying land and storm water pipes that do meet the current development standers. She suggested a solution.

“By raising the city’s roads and adjusting the storm water inlets, which you know is going to take some money, we would be able to reduce a lot of drainage issues and mosquitos and even prevent overflows of rain water,” she said.

Murphy added, “I think this is something that should be addressed with the city. And I am willing to talk with anyone here in Pensacola about locating grant money or involving state funds, anything we need to do to pay for this project and solve the storm water issue.”

Inweekly spoke with Councilwoman Cannada-Wynn and Dr. Horning after the meeting.

“We’re just not getting answer about this issue. The city blames ECUA, and ECUA blames the city for the problems, but we really just need someone to address the problem right now,” Horning told Inweekly,

“We’ll start by surveying the area to see which portions of the district continually go under after getting normal amounts of rain during the stormy season, ” said Cannada-Wynn. “We also need to look into drain replacement and how that will work, then bring it up with the Mayor, then the public.”


3 thoughts on “Tanyard residents seek answers

  1. Stormwater can enter a sanitary sewer system through manholes when water stages in the road. This happens when a street floods. ECUA reviews every set of plans when they have utilities in the project area. In addition to the City and ECUA review, the NWFWMD or DEP also reviews the plans before issuing a permit.

  2. This post says about Councilwoman Cannada-Wynn, “She added, ‘But my next step is to go back and review the city’s drainage improvement plan.’” I remember the April 2014 monsoon when we had about two feet of rain in 24 hours. I turned back home on a trip to Foley when I saw cars nearly submerged in the street near the Sheriff’s Office. As I worked to find a detour, I saw a water spout of about ten feet jumping out of a spot once covered by a manhole cover. This more recent series of rainstorms to include the three inches we got last night at my home in Scenic Heights was tame by comparison. My test for “heavy rain” is when the water pools in Eastgate Park across the street. That only happened twice this time and for only 1-2 hours at best. I do not believe any excuse that we should expect a city’s stormwater system to fail when there is only 18 inches of rain in 21 days, or 21 inches if you include last night’s rain. Further, could someone please explain in English how stormwater can flow into the sewage system. That sounds like a design flaw. I cannot imagine that the city planned for that to happen. It would be interesting to know if ECUA has a role reviewing the city’s stormwater plans to ensure the potential for contamination is at least minimized. After the April 2014 rains, I recall City Council members and especially Councilman Bare expressing frustration. The meetings are on video but I recall only hearing lame excuses from the Hayward Administration. As happens because in our new form of city government the city’s Chief Administrative Official (the Mayor) is not accountable to the Governing Body (the City Council), and the Mayor has every incentive to cover up screw-ups, the stormwater issues were quickly forgotten. The problem is that every change in the landscape affects stormwater drainage. I learned that much in my college geography coursework. If not now done, perhaps every permit issued by the city should have attached to it a stormwater impact assessment. Further, perhaps the City Council should appoint a Stormwater Commission with one member from each Council district appointed by each Councilmember. The commission could be supported by an expert on stormwater management hired by the City Council. It could meet at least once a month to review stormwater management issues not just inside city limits but in the non-city areas on the edge of the city and even in the deep enclaves where the city all but surrounds large areas of non-city property. Such a commission could then make specific recommendations to the City Council with respect to how best to use Stormwater Fund revenues, Local Option Sales Tax revenues and other sources of county, state, federal and private dollars to enhance the city’s infrastructure.

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