Letters to the Editor in Sebastian for Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Most letters are about the drainage and flooding issues.
Storm Drainage Problems
As local Sebastian homeowners, my wife and I have learned to adjust our expectations on what the city will do for us in terms of “swale” maintenance. The long term plan of “quarter round” swale pipe mysteriously ended 10 years short of when our street was suppose to be lined. The city then indicated they had a “ditch witch” or “armadillo” that they could bring in to open up neglected swale maintenance. However, this machine was always mysteriously broken down or unavailable.
My wife and I (mostly my wife) have accepted the fact that we are responsible for our own swale maintenance. In fact, the city officials that have visited our property in times of complete street flooding, have told us repeatedly that swale maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Even though our swale is immaculately maintained, there are countless obstructions on our street that inhibit water drainage. These obstructions include non-existent or filled in swales, damaged or blocked driveway culverts, new construction with temporary non permitted culverts, and rental properties whose owners are either absent or don’t care.
For example, we have one property owner on our street with a collapsed driveway culvert; it has been cited by Code Enforcement and refuses to make the repair. I’m sure that our street is the rule rather than the exception in Sebastian.
If in fact, the code or law states that the swale maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner, then the town needs to publish the exact requirements. Once published, Code Enforcement needs to be given the necessary authority to enforce violations.
I think that if the city council actively focused on homeowner swale maintenance, it would go a long way in minimizing freak storm flooding and quicker drainage.
One consideration perhaps overlooked when reviewing the drainage problems is that when the system was designed, the size of the homes was significantly smaller than homes built recently.
So, less percolation and infiltration into the soil. More runoff. More flooding.
Do People Not Understand The System, Or Just Don’t Care?
I read the article on addressing the flooding in Sebastian and was surprised that the photos were from Sebastian. After thinking about it for a minute, I realized that I should not be. Putting aside the amount of rain in the time frame we experienced, there are other considerations when it comes to the water not moving.
The swale and culvert system is designed to catch the water and keep it moving away from the streets and to the canals and stormwater basins. I know that with time some swales tend to level off from erosion. I try to keep mine in shape and keep it from clogging as best I can. This does not do much if others are not doing the same though.
I have seen a number of our residents covering up the culvert openings and laying sod on top, completely restricting the purpose they were designed for. Are we supposed to be filling in our swales and covering up our culverts? It seems some may need to be informed about the system and how it is supposed to work.