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Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015
Local News

Lake Verona joins lakes Tulane, Isis in drainage improvements

By Paul Catala
Highlands Today


AVON PARK – City of Avon Park officials remain on their quest to upgrade, update and improve drainage, and in the process, water quality around its major lakes.

The city is currently building drainage and water quality improvement infrastructures at Lake Tulane and Lake Isis, and is now in the process of accepting contractor bids for the same undertakings at Lake Verona.

The scope of work to be done at Lake Verona at Donaldson Park, northeast of Verona Avenue and Main Street, includes building a drainage system to reduce pollutants being discharged directly into the lake; remove the existing sidewalk at Circle Street and build a curb and multi-use path from Miracle Avenue to North Lake Avenue; add curbing concrete flumes and swales along roads to treat runoff and remove pollutants; and reconstruct home and business driveways as necessary.

Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon said the work all ties into the city’s commitment to improving water quality of what’s currently discharged into the lakes with the city limits.

According to the 2013 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report for Avon Park by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the city’s drinking water met all federal and state requirements for 2013. The report shows drinking water meets all federal and state requirements and throughout the year; public utilities are required to test water in Avon Park, Sebring and Lake Placid under various parameters.

Deleon said the work done in what is called a “best management practices project,” designed to maximize city project output while minimizing fiscal impacts.

“The city continues committed to improving the water quality currently discharged to the Lakes located within our jurisdiction,” said Deleon. “We are currently building drainage and water quality improvements for Lake Tulane and Lake Isis. The same is planned for Lake Verona.”

Deleon said similar to lakes Tulane and Isis, Avon Park applied for a joint-funding project with the South Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) for Lake Verona. Currently, Swiftmud pays 75 percent of the $509,000 project and the city pays the remaining 25 percent.

The Lake Verona project is designed to maximize drainage retention within public right-of-ways by constructing swales for water storage, said Deleon. Most of the project requires the city to provide street curbing, flumes and some driveways and sidewalks are getting rebuilt to provide structural elements necessary to properly route water into the new retention areas.

The most recent runoff drainage project was advertised for public bid. Deleon said three sealed bids were submitted and Excavation Point Inc. of Sebring was signed to do the work for $509,329.

“This company is located within this county, so we are glad the funds are staying local,” said Deleon.

Deleon added there are several “outfalls” which take direct, untreated stormwater runoff directly into the lake. The primary objective of the Lake Verona and other projects is to provide improved water quality going into the lake.

“The drainage retention within the right of ways will help reduce nutrients and other pollutant loading associated with street pavement and direct runoff discharges,” he said.

In early February, similar lake basin work was done at Lake Tulane, southeast of U.S. 27 and Main Street, and was part of a $600,000 joint restoration effort underway to upgrade the water quality and keep storm water and other runoff from damaging lake ecosystems through a project. Funding came mostly from Swiftmud and was done in tandem with restoration efforts on Lake Isis, about two miles north.

Clell Ford, Highlands County lakes manager, said the same type of drainage and runoff improvements were done at Lake Clay in Lake Placid From Sept. 2012 to Jan. 2013. He said he was near the lake during a recent rainstorm and saw “a lot” of runoff entering the lake’s stormwater system, entering the ground instead of the lake.

“They’re (improvements) very beneficial. I’m very happy the (Avon Park) city has made these efforts and we support them,” he said. “I’m glad that Avon Park had done all these projects inside their limits.”

A spokesman for Excavation Point said Friday a date to begin the project hasn’t been set.

(863) 386-5855