Our First Big Scare: Many Newer Residents Have Learned How Important It Is To Be Prepared

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

September 29, 2022

Well, we went thru our first big scare of the hurricane season. We are lucky not to have been faced with a direct hit, but we all know here in Florida things can change in a matter of hours. While these hurricanes are a part of living in paradise, I am sure many of our newer residents now have learned how important it is to be prepared.

City staff, as of Sunday, have all been activated. Since flooding is the biggest threat that we have here in the city we have established a strict protocol to address our drainage systems. Our staff continually maintain the system by cleaning out the basins. Even with regular maintenance once the alert begins, we start a sweep of the city system. This time around we were very pleased that FDOT came in just before the alert and did their maintenance of Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

I need to remind our readers. The system that has been put in place both in the NE quadrant and SW have improved the flooding conditions. These systems do not guarantee that there will never be flooding. This depends on how heavy and the amount of rain fall. They do help to make sure the streets are cleared quicker in the event of downpours and in cases of hurricanes.

Every resident can do their part in helping to prevent flooding. If you have a catch basin on your property, please make sure it is clear of debris. Our system is made up of gravity drains. Water flows to the basins into the intracoastal, canals, lakes and into deep well injection pumps. Many condominiums have French Drain systems with catch basins. These should be cleaned out annually. There is an inspection required by city ordinance.

Our city infrastructure is literally out of sight out of mind. Many of us do not even think about it unless the water is not running the toilet is backed up or the streets are flooded. As elected officials it is second on the list to public safety. This budget and in the coming years we will be focused on replacing much of our underground pipes. These replacements are very costly, and we have recently agreed on a financial plan to move forward.

The financial plan will come in two parts. The first is thru what are called revenue bonds. The second will be in the form or a Government Obligation Bond. Just like in many condominiums having to perform 40 and 50 year inspections, our city is doing the same. We did a Basis of Design Report that sat around for 5 years but now is being utilized. No more kicking the can down the road. We are all focused on water, wastewater and stormwater.

While they are all interconnected, I will start off with the stormwater component first. On your water bills you will see a 2 dollars stormwater fee. For many years our system was simply gravity, canals and lakes. Swales were maintained by Community Development Block Grants, taxes and fees. The system was also inspected thru televised cameras and cleaned. As we continue to add to the system with large pumping and wells the fee never increased.

We contracted with a third party that specializes in Water Infrastructure Financing. They worked with our staff team to evaluate the needs to prioritize the projects and establish a funding plan. Many of our residents that live out west are near lakes and know they have not been maintained for years. We have begun to look at projects to improve the drainage and secure the embankments. Those that live along the canals and intracoastal have watched sea level rise. We are looking at outfitting our gravity drain with flapper systems to keep out water while still allowing drainage.

In order to pay for maintenance of the system and add improvements it was recommended that the flat fee be raised to 8 dollars. Many cities have stormwater fees and others do not. The consultant stressed that many cities are finally realizing the effects that sea level rise and global climate changes are having on the aging stormwater systems. These systems need to be maintained and improved to ensure we are ready to deal with future changes. By being proactive we will have funding established for future needs.

It needs to be noted that when cities have local matching dollars and are ready to build projects, they are more likely to receive grant funding for the County State and/or National programs. When we went out to address stormwater years after enormous flooding issues we went as partners not just asking for help. Since we did have local funds and were in the process of designing a plan, we received funding of 15 million for our 14th Avenue pumping station.

This has already been proven true this year. We were awarded one of the top grant recipients from Governor DeSantis. While I will go into wastewater plan next article, we had approved design plans to replace and repair sanitary sewer pumps. Since we are shovel ready, we received a 15 million grant.

Wishing all our friend and neighbors who celebrate, Wishing you a L ’Shana Tova. May you have a sweet New Year blessed with health and happiness.

As always, I am available for your questions, concerns and ideas to help make our City a better place. Please feel free to reach out at my office: (954) 457-1318. On my cell/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or E-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org.