Stormwater Master Planning

Written by: Billy Almaguer

Allen Saunders once stated, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”  Many of us who live in the sunshine state know every year, we have a chance of feeling the indirect or direct impact of a tropical storm or even hurricane. For many municipalities, these storms cause significant damage and destruction. Sometimes, the recovery can take many years. However, with some well-thought-out planning, many municipalities could mitigate against future damages.

Three things you can think about to put your municipality in a better position for the next storm:

  1. Do Not Ignore the Past
    Many municipalities have a history of low-lying areas and areas with drainage challenges. Chances are, if you are a municipality, you know where these are. Make sure you know where the drainage challenges are for your community. In doing this, you are setting yourself up to manage them better.
  2. Plan for the Future
    It is one thing to acknowledge a problem and quite a different thing to make a plan to address it. If there are known drainage challenges in your community, the question you should ask yourself is, has it been handled? Many municipalities have benefited from looking beyond their current situation to a snapshot of their community ten years (or more) down the road. There are many benefits to identifying future development challenges while trying to solve existing drainage problem.
  3. Do Something NowWhile planning is wise, if a plan sits on a shelf, it has become another good idea. We can never improve the things that need improvement if we never start taking steps to do so.

Why Do We Recommend this Service?

If your municipality has never created a Stormwater Master Plan or if it has been a while, I encourage you to consider the positives. In doing so, you will be better positioned to identify potential shortcomings before they become problems. It will also demonstrate (to the public) that the municipality has taken proactive problem-solving. Finally, the municipality can take advantage of potential funding sources such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). This program provides grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a Major Disaster Declaration.

Practical Application

MDG was tasked by St. Johns County to analyze the Butler Beach region’s drainage characteristics and study of how the region’s various sub-regions interact with each other. MDG staff reviewed the existing drainage basin and identified areas of concern, which included the watersheds and stormwater infrastructure within the Butler Beach drainage area. Data was collected and analyzed from FEMA historic claims, FDOT infrastructure, field observations, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soils information, current SJRWMD permits, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) storm data, multiple field surveys and observations along with other data sources.

In addition, a community forum/public meeting was held to identify other potential deficient areas. Each sub-region was evaluated, and recommendations were made for improvements. Maintenance considerations, capital costs and overall construction feasibility were considered. The proposed solutions were ranked based on the overall benefit cost analysis to assist the County in determining timing and funding of capital improvements to the drainage systems, overall effectiveness, ease of maintenance, feasibility of construction, and overall benefit to the sub-region.

Finally, a detailed with report with full details for each potential solution was created and presented to St. Johns County.

In need of civil engineering services for your project? We would be happy to partner with you!


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