By Josephine Fuller, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA — The City of Miami’s Office of Capital Improvements (OCI) recently highlighted the City’s stormwater and flood prevention efforts with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Tidal Backflow Valve #37 located at Maurice A. Ferre Park in downtown Miami.
Funded by the Miami Forever Bond, which was approved by citizens in 2017, OCI plans to install fifty one-way tidal backflow valves. These will help reduce the impact of King Tides and rising water levels, which are happening more frequently.
“This project includes the refurbishment or installation of drainage control structures, lining of drainage pipes, installation of new tidal valves on drainage outfalls, and creation of pollution control systems, as needed,” said Steven Williamson, Director of OCI.
“This project will help us alleviate the potential economic risk of property damage, reduce the impact on people who walk or drive, and improve the City’s response to emergencies.”
These one-way tidal valves control flooding by preventing high tides from forcing water back up pipes and into streets. Forty-seven out of the total fifty have already been installed, and the remaining three should be in by January, said Sylejman Ujkani, Miami Forever Bond project manager.
“Recently we had King Tides on Brickell Avenue. We went and inspected our valves and they actually worked and prevented the water from coming in,” he said.
In the city, there are 400 total backflow valves which the city hopes to install. In 2021 they will ask for an additional $1.5 million from the state in order to continue the process. The Miami Forever Bond allocated $2.5 million for this project and the State contributed an extra $1.5 million.
The bond started with $400 million, said OCI director Williamson. Last December the city commission gave the approval to go forward with about $58 million in projects, and $10.3 million was allocated for projects regarding sea level rise and flood prevention.
“We deliberately kept that number low because we believe that we still have a number of things we need to learn,” Williamson said.
Part of what makes these so successful is their relatively simple installation which doesn’t require any major construction that would block off roads or sidewalks.
The City of Miami is still undertaking a Stormwater Master Plan, which will set the conditions and identify requirements on how the OCI addresses the way that water flows in the city.
Williamson said they wanted to show success and make an immediate impact on citizens and investors. There are six projects in total, including ones in Brickell and Coconut Grove.