COURTHOUSE – Improving the capacity of and drainage from the two lakes at Sherwood Lakes, a subdivision near Pungo that experienced flooding following storms this past year, may cost about $4 million, a sum that is far smaller than earlier rough estimates suggested, according to the city.
Virginia Beach is grappling with concerns about flooding in a number of communities, a contentious topic in the most recent elections and city budget cycle. Compared to efforts to fix drainage in places such as Ashville Park, improving Sherwood Lakes seem to have a clearer path forward.
“Unlike other neighborhoods with stormwater challenges that we are working to address, the solution for Sherwood Lakes is more straightforward and relatively less costly,” City Manager Dave Hansen wrote in a letter to the city council on Friday, Aug. 4. “The major reason for this is that the subdivision was constructed around two former borrow pits and the ratio of lake area to watershed area is extremely high.”
Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy and Mark Johnson, administrator of public works operations, presented information about the plan for Sherwood Lakes to the city council during a work session on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Additionally, Mike Mundy, a city stormwater engineer, also briefed the public during a wide-ranging forum about stormwater issues in the Princess Anne District on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
That gathering, which drew more than 100 people to Building 19 at the municipal center, followed up on discussion at a recent forum hosted by City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the district. Issues included sea level rise, drainage projects and issues at Ashville Park near Pungo.
One of the goals for Sherwood Lakes is to better interconnect the two lakes in the neighborhood, Mundy said, noting that there sometimes are different water levels in each lake. The larger lake has a roughly 231-acre drainage area compared to the south lake, which has about an 133-acre drainage area, according to a presentation prepared by public works staff. This refers to surrounding areas that drain into the lakes, including outside the development.
During the work session, officials discussed preventative pumping they are doing now and plans to improve the drainage system. Johnson said efforts at Sherwood Lakes would aim to reestablish the capacity for the lakes to store water so they can handle runoff during significant weather events.
The city presently is pumping down the lakes and monitoring them. Hansen said temporary pumping systems were set up in the wake of flooding associated with Hurricane Matthew, including pumping lakes down before anticipated rainy weather. That relieves pressure on the system there and “receiving bodies” such as West Neck Creek.
Essentially, pumping keeps the lake water levels low enough that they should be able to handle runoff from a significant storm without overflowing their banks, as they did this past year. Stormwater is then discharged.
Permanent pumps are proposed for the lakes, as well as intake and discharge pipes and new storm sewer pipe to connect the lakes, according to the presentation. Permanent pump stations are in the process of being designed.
Though past rough estimates for Sherwood Lakes put possible fixes at as much as $20 million, current estimates suggest the cost is closer to $3.8 million. About $3 million is slated toward the issue there over the next couple of years in the city’s capital spending plan.
According to the staff presentation, permanent pumps for each lake would cost about $1 million each, with the north lake project scheduled to start late next year and the south lake project to start in late 2019.
“It does sound better than it did at first,” Henley said, noting the changed price tag.
The city also is discussing improving the stormwater capabilities for the neighborhood with the develop, according to Hansen.
During the work session, Henley complimented city public works personnel on the forum for the district, which faces unique drainage issues.
Addressing issues such as the impact of wind tides, a regular source of flooding in communities in the city’s south, also includes considering the potential effects of sea level rise in coming years, which is anticipated to be significant in the southern watershed.
“The Princess Anne District is half the city geographically,” Henley said, “and when you’re talking about drainage area, you’re talking about a very large area with a lot different situations.”
The Independent News has covered a number of issues related to flooding in southern Virginia Beach in recent editions. Archived stories can be found by following this link. Please note that stories generally are posted online well after they run in print.
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