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Lehigh Acres MSID celebrates first year with stormwater achievements

July 13, 2016
Special to THE CITIZEN ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District is celebrating its first anniversary with its new moniker and its 58th year in the community.

Over the last year, it has achieved a number of milestones by building and fostering relationships with local and state governments, said Commissioner Ken Thompson, chairman of the board.

In May, the LA-MSID broke ground on the Southwest Lehigh Weirs project, also known as the Aquifer Benefit and Storage for the Orange River Basin project.

Article Photos

Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District logo

The project provides construction of 25 weirs in Lehigh through a strategic partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

"The board of commissioners and district staff have diligently worked to maintain assessment rates at $26.29 per quarter acre while completing all of the necessary tasks of maintaining the water control system and partnerships among local government agencies help make that possible," said Commissioner Mike Welch.

The LA-MSID identified and secured alternative revenue sources, such as the sale of easements to the FDOT for $3.2 million.

The project allows for the construction of State Road 82 to move forward without the need for roadside retention ponds. Instead, the project will drain to the district's stormwater system.

The FDOT funds are earmarked for capital projects, said LA-MSID District Manager Dave Lindsay.

The LA-MSID received a matching grant from the Florida DEP for $1.22 million for the Southwest Lehigh Weirs Project. The project will increase canal control elevations and local groundwater levels by constructing 25 weirs within an approximately 10 square mile area in the southwest to allow for the improvement in stormwater storage, Lindsay said.

"The Southwest Lehigh Weirs Project is a crucial step to making tangible improvements in the health of the Caloosahatchee river and estuary through improved water quality and aquifer recharge and increased storage for the Orange River Basin," said Commissioner Nathan Stout.

The project can add at least 800 acre-feet - 800 acres, one foot deep of water - of storage depending on the severity of the storm event, Lindsay said.

"A previous modeling study of the district showed that we are 15,000 acre-feet short of stormwater storage. Innovative projects, partnerships with other government agencies, and grant opportunities are helping the district build crucial capital projects and chip away at this storage deficit," Commissioner David Deetscreek said.

For the project, the additional water and its nutrients and pollution will be removed from the Orange River and Caloosahatchee of an estimated 888 kilograms per year of nitrogen and 87 kilograms per year of phosphorus," Lindsay said.

Through agreements with Lee County, the LA-MSID received nearly $389,000 to replace an existing weir and allow the county to discharge stormwater into the district's system as part of the Homestead Road widening effort. Construction for the replacement weir north of Sunrise Boulevard and east of Richmond Avenue South is underway.

Commissioner Michael Bonacolta said the Homestead project shows a joint effort between the LA-MSID and the county to work together to find the best, most cost efficient ways to improve infrastructure.



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