City council members recently celebrated receiving over $3.5 million in state and federal funding to dredge Bartlett Lake, which will mitigate flooding risks to surrounding neighborhoods.
The strategic project stems from previous studies on minimizing frequent flooding around the Lake Maggiore Basin. Stormwater flows through Bartlett Lake – which collects trash, debris and sediment – before it eventually reaches Tampa Bay.
Environmentalists and city officials subsequently made clearing the smaller lake a priority, as that will reduce stormwater flooding and increase water quality around a community park. City documents state the project will also bolster resiliency to sea level rise and climate change for Bartlett Park residents.
Brejesh Prayman, director of engineering and capital improvements, told council members at a March 2 meeting that extensive analysis and planning helped the city receive $2.035 million in federal funding and another $1.5 million Florida Department of Environmental Protection resiliency grant.
“So, essentially, the construction phase of this project will be paid – hopefully fully – by the grants,” Prayman said. “Unless construction costs continue to escalate the way it is right now, but we are cautiously optimistic on that.”
According to the project description, contractors will dredge and remove nearly 18,000 cubic yards of sediment from the bottom of Bartlett Lake, while preserving native vegetation and the marine habitat. The federal funding is through a Department of Economic Opportunity Community Development block grant, and officials consider 70.23% of area residents low-to-moderate-income earners.
Due to the complexity associated with multiple funding requirements, city administrators hired Stantec Consulting Service to oversee environmental assessments, permitting and grant compliance. That contract is not to exceed $311,411.90.
“The construction fees should be covered completely,” Prayman said. “And just some minor costs on the city side to cover the inspections, project management and compliance requirements.”
Councilmember Gina Driscoll credited Prayman for his expertise and ability to procure the money needed to complete pertinent projects. She said dredging Bartlett Lake has been a personal priority “for a very long time” and that flooding around Lake Maggiore is a common problem.
While she said it is solvable, Driscoll noted the solution requires significant resources. “We just have a wonderful team that knows how to put together a plan and make a real case to get the funding that’s needed,” she added.
An environmental analysis states that years of stormwater discharge have clogged the waterway and diminished its storage capacity. So, workers will dredge built-up sediment until the lake reaches five feet below the mean low water elevation.
Once removed, a contained dewatering system will dry the sediment on site before a contractor hauls it to an appropriate facility. Councilmember Lisset Hanewicz said many people do not realize a dredging project’s expense.
“The dredging is going to help flooding and water quality,” Hanewicz said. “That’s huge. I’m so excited about this and seeing what comes out of this and the improvements, and who knows, maybe we can get more of these done throughout the city.”
The city council unanimously approved accepting the grants and an amended contract with Stantec Consulting Services.