Climate change is here and Wilton Manors has to deal with it.

At the next commission meeting, a PowerPoint presentation is scheduled to review infrastructure projects relating to the city’s master plan. Recent rains and storms saturated grounds exposing leaks and breaks in sewer pipes. 

“Our natural drainage area is being impacted by climate change and sea-level rise,” said City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson

Southeast Florida averages 58 inches of rainfall a year, said Henderson. That level was reached by early October and then another 40% of that total was added in six weeks' time.

“The end of October we had an intense amount of rain that completely saturated our ground just in time for Tropical Storm Eta to arrive on the weekend of Nov. 7,” Henderson said. “Our system is meant to handle a lot of rainfall, but we were at capacity.”

Middle River is six inches higher than normal and there are more frequent extreme weather events happening, Henderson said. The recent heavy storms created intense pressure on wastewater pipes resulting in two breaks.

At the commission’s Nov. 24 meeting a $300,000 contract was awarded to Sanford based contractor Granite Inliner for repairs to lift station basin five. Crews worked around the clock on the project to fix breaks at Northeast Fifth Ave. & 21st Ct. and on 26th St.

“We found after the major rainstorms that we’ve had — we’ve had over three feet of rain in six weeks — that we have more leaks than expected,” said David Archacki, the Wilton Manors Emergency Management/Utilities Director.

The contract with Granite Inliner was about getting Wilton Manors’ drainage system “tidied up.” At the request of Commissioner Mike Bracchi, Archacki explained the slip lining process where cameras and devices are inserted into the pipes to get readings on gallons per minutes and to seal leaks. 

“It’s the water leaking into the sewer line and that’s what we’re having problems with,” Mayor Scott Newton said. “There’s not a quick fix but with sea-level rise it needs to be done.”

At the next commission meeting, Henderson said a consultant will explain how the city can build a “resilient system meant to withstand rising sea levels and also address capacity for future growth.”

The next commission meeting is Dec. 8.

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