The $2.8 million stormwater-management upgrade project on Beach Road, which has been delayed by more than a year, inched closer to groundbreaking, when the county procurement department started advertising for bids Oct. 27. Contractors will have about one month to submit price quotes, guided by the county’s $1.5 million engineering estimate.
The county wants the firm to begin part of the project in February. Sea-turtle nesting season and tourist season will give the contractor strict project deadlines.
Erickson Consulting Engineers did a feasibility study for a stormwater upgrade after fecal bacteria forced the county to issue a no-swim advisory for Siesta Key public beach in 2004. The firm chose a system that discharges stormwater into the Grand Canal, with an overflow pipeline stretching into the Gulf of Mexico.
“We were very vigorous at the very beginning that the runoff didn’t go across the road and into the canal,” said Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner. The association was one of the resident advocate groups active in public meeting discussions during the planning process.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District approved a $1,400 revised permit application Aug. 27, which was changed mainly due to public input about having a buffer to a nearby condominium. County engineers settled on a system with an ultraviolet filter system at the back-end to eliminate a majority of remaining bacteria, said Sarasota County project manager Curtis Smith, who also oversees the Siesta Key public beach improvement plan.
The new method will likely be completed by late next year or in 2014 and will collect runoff from the same 60 acres of the previous water management system.
The contractor chosen for the project will face challenges ranging from determining which vegetation it must extract — living — and transplant elsewhere, in compliance with the Florida Department of Transportation’s guidelines for roadwork. And, there’s also the 2,700 sea oat plants the chosen firm must put in the ground.
The county scheduled a pre-bid meeting for Nov. 9, to assure that interested firm representatives know the timeline will add to the project’s complexity.
“They need to know they’re not going to get very much wiggle room,” said Sarasota County Resources Manager Hank Schneider. “When those turtles come across that beach, they need to be done.”
County staff split the project into two parts, with construction of the underground pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico scheduled to start in February, after the height of tourist season, and end before sea-turtle nesting begins. That’s also the most challenging engineering aspect of the project, Schneider said.
The contractor will use a computer program to direct a drill on a horizontal pattern underground and lay the discharge piping. Arrow Directional Boring Inc. used the technique for the Siesta Key-Casey Key drinking water pipeline.
“That’s the type of fun stuff engineers become engineers to do,” Schneider said. The second phase of the project is allotted for the contractor to dig the retention pond and finish the remainder of the filtration system.
Communication with the public is the biggest challenge on the county’s end, Smith said. They will be mailing postcards with information about the project and contact information before it begins.
Now the county can work on permitting for the larger public beach improvements, for which SKA and Siesta architect Mark Smith have been consulting with the county to determine a manageable price.
“They are on the move with this, and we’re really relieved,” Luckner said.
The new stormwater management system is unique because UV filtration is usually used to treat drinking water, Schneider said. That won’t, however, make treated runoff safe to drink after the system is in place.
“But, it’s certainly safe to swim and fish in,” Schneider said.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Stormwater will flow into the new retention pond and bask in the sunlight as part of the filtration system, said Sarasota County Resources Manager Hank Schneider. Natural UV rays kill bacteria, and solid waste settles and separates from the water. When the water reaches a certain level, it flows into an underground filtration system and is discharged into a pump station, which will push the runoff through the ultraviolet filter.