SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On a rainy day like Tuesday, Anna Maria Island is especially prone to flooding. But city staff said an island-wide project is helping eliminate the large amounts of water known to drown the main road through town.
The city engineer for Holmes and Bradenton Beach, Lynn Burnett, said high tide and even slight rains are enough to create the perfect storm for their roadways.
“When it rains, the more opportunity that the water has to get into the ground and not just flood out the streets and your low level or ground level homes, [the better]" said Burnett. "That’s the goal: the goal is really for flood reduction, as much a possible.”
Burnett said anyone driving through the neighborhoods where the system hasn’t been installed yet has to drive through a foot of water. But city staff said they’ve found the solution: infiltration systems to capture the storm water through the entire island.
“We had a great downpour yesterday and the evening before and it’s working,” said Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth.
They’ve already started to implement the system that not only gives the water a place to drain from the street to the underground aquifer, but filters it through the stones below, too.
“So if we can reduce the amount of runoff that carries pesticides and nitrates and phosphates or phosphorus and your suspended solids, if we can capture that, clean it and then send the water to the aquifer below, that’s a win win for everybody,” Burnett said.
Still, there was one piece of the puzzle that was missing, until Burnett said they recently discovered the "WaStop” valve that completes the system.
“When the rains happen and you have heavy storm events, then the valve will pop open and let the water out like that," Burnett said. "But if you have a high tide, the valve will shut and it won’t let any of the water back in.”
Bradenton Beach just got more than $2 million awarded by the State to finish installing those valves.
Now, Holmes Beach is hoping to get FEMA funds approved in order to pay for the installation of the rest of the infiltration systems.