SW Lehigh Weirs Project
Regionally-Beneficial Stormwater Project: Southwest Lehigh Weirs (A.B.S.O.R.B) Progresses
The project will help achieve water quality and stormwater storage benefits for Caloosahatchee Basins
The Southwest Lehigh Weirs, otherwise known as the Aquifer Benefit and Storage for the Orange River Basin (A.B.S.O.R.B) project, provides construction of 25 weirs in Lehigh Acres through a strategic, multi-agency partnership, including the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the Lehigh Acres MSID, and 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.
A weir is a low dam built across a canal or river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow.
The Southwest Lehigh Weirs project is funded, in part, through a $1.22 million grant through the FDEP TMDL Water Quality Restoration Grant program and financial support from FDOT. Annually, the state legislature provides funding for the implementation of best management practices, such as regional stormwater treatment facilities, designed to reduce pollutant loads to impaired waters from urban stormwater discharges. This funding is administered by FDEP as the TMDL Water Quality Restoration Grant.
Additional funding was secured through an agreement between Lehigh Acres MSID and FDOT in which FDOT will purchase the ability to discharge into Lehigh Acres MSID’s stormwater system and receive fill dirt for road beds in their State Road 82 (SR82) widening project; this mutually-beneficial agreement has helped speed up the timeframe for road construction as well as for Lehigh Acres MSID’s capital projects; has eliminated the need for roadside retention ponds along SR82; and has allowed Lehigh Acres MSID to be proactive in solving infrastructure needs and provided the ability to construct crucial stormwater projects without imposing an assessment increase on ratepayers.
Through the agreement with FDOT, Lehigh Acres MSID is able to help reduce the effects on the Caloosahatchee River and support the state’s efforts through the construction of several capital projects such as Southwest Weirs, Hendry Canal Widening and the West Marsh project.
Lehigh Acres MSID will improve stormwater storage by at least 754 acre-feet of storage depending on the severity of the storm event.
Projects like the Southwest Lehigh Weirs, show the infinite possibilities for improvements for stormwater issues and showcases the positive impacts government agencies have when they work together for the greatest benefit for the communities in which we serve.
LA-MSID’s Contractor is completing the concrete work on the last five of the 25 weirs. They have begun installing the gates’ cat-walks and control features and have a finish date set in July 2017, noted Lindsay.