New Smyrna Beach receiving $1 million to help clear flood-prone canals

The City of New Smyrna Beach will receive $1 million in state funding to help clean up canals surrounding Pine Island and Aqua Golf, two centrally located mainland communities that saw some homes flooded with 4 feet of storm surge during Hurricane Ian last September.

First dug in the 1950s, the canals have experienced considerable vegetation and sediment buildup over the years with no documented history of maintenance. Using a small barge and dredging equipment, the project’s aim is to improve stormwater drainage into nearby Turnbull Creek, itself the subject of another city effort approved by voters in 2018 to protect water quality and wildlife habitat by purchasing land slated for development to instead set aside for conservation.

The appropriation partially covers one of several funding requests the city had submitted as part of an aggressive $16.1 million stormwater maintenance and preventative measures package that originally sought $1.85 million for the Pine Island and Aqua Golf canals, $3.75 million to dredge and clean Turnbull Creek, $2.5 million to restore and partially dredge Cemetery Canal, $3 million to implement a stormwater master plan for the city’s Historic Westside neighborhood, and $5 million to do the same for its Corbin Park neighborhood.

Aerial map highlighting approximately 1.25 miles of canals surrounding Pine Island and Aqua Golf with a red line.

Aerial map highlighting approximately 1.25 miles of canals surrounding Pine Island and Aqua Golf with a red line.

The announcement comes less than a month before the city is expected to roll out the results of an expert exposure report commissioned to investigate potential causes of the catastrophic flooding that resulted from nearly 21 inches of rainfall observed during Ian and determine how best to mitigate it in the future. After the report is presented to city commissioners, they will then face the task of deliberating which of its recommendations to adopt along with the fate of a temporary six-month moratorium passed to allow time for the study that currently prohibits new residential development projects on properties 10 acres or larger located in FEMA Flood Zones A & AE.

Notice of the appropriation was communicated in a May 2 letter from State Senator Tom Wright to Mayor Fred Cleveland.

“I know this funding is going to be put to great use by your organization and look forward to seeing the positive benefit it has on our community,” wrote Wright. “I am incredibly proud to bring this critical funding home to our beloved communities and look forward to the effects it will have.”

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