Drainage Maintenance & Stormwater Utility
To report a non-emergency problem involving flooding, erosion or other drainage matters, please contact the Public Works Department at (904) 247-5834 or by using the Citizen Request Tracker webpage. For drainage problems involving State-maintained roads, the City will contact the Florida Department of Transportation. For drainage problems involving developed private property, the City may provide informal technical information and advice.
The Stormwater Utility was established with the creation of a monthly fee for the purpose of funding improvements needed to reduce the impact of severe weather by providing effective treatment and removal of the City's stormwater. In addition to capital projects, this program now funds the maintenance of the stormwater system within the City of Atlantic Beach. The costs associated with that function were previously paid for from the City's General Fund and now those costs are shared. The City's Stormwater Collection System consists of over 14.4 miles of ditches, 22 miles of piped storm drains and 930 catch basins, and 2 stormwater treatment ponds. The City also maintains 3 stormwater ponds for the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT).
In addition, many subdivisions and developments have privately maintained collection and treatment systems.
Keeping a Healthy Stormwater System
The most important goal for keeping a stormwater system healthy is to allow only clean stormwater into it.
- The stormwater system is completely separate from the sanitary sewer system.
- The stormwater system is the collection point of the neighborhood's stormwater drainage system.
- Anything entering a storm inlet will impact the stormwater system. Get this message out in your neighborhood.
- Preventing pollutants from entering the stormwater system is the least expensive and most effective tool for maintaining a healthy system.
- Landscape fertilizer (nutrients) is enemy number 1 for stormwater systems. It is the most widespread and destructive pollutant in our urban environment.
- Atlantic Beach has very sandy soil that water travels through very quickly, taking dissolved substances with it. Thus, fertilizer and other chemicals applied to a landscape can easily end up in a stormwater system. Irrigation techniques will have a large impact on your system.
- Be aware of other sources of nutrients that should be kept out of stormwater inlets and system. Do not sweep or blow yard waste or clippings into a stormwater collection system. Never dispose of animal droppings in a storm sewer catch basin or inlet.
- Minimize the need for fertilizer and pesticide. Use plants that are native to the area. They tolerate natural soil and rainfall conditions and are more insect resistant when planted in the right places.
- If you do use lawn chemicals follow these rules:
1) Don't apply fertilizer within five feet of a water body.
2) Use time-release fertilizer of proper composition; consider fertilization through your
3) Fertilize at the proper time of year. Applying during the wet season (May-November) is wasted time
and money, as nutrients leach away from plant roots and into surface and groundwater where
it becomes a pollutant.
- Irrigate sparingly and only during the dry season (December-April). Teach plants to look for water on their own. They will grow deeper roots and be less reliant on irrigation during dry periods.
- The St. Johns River Water Management District has implemented water restrictions that prohibit watering between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. even if your sprinkler system uses well water. These restrictions also limit watering to two days per week in the fall and winter months and one day per week in the spring and summer seasons. Hand watering is always allowed.
Here in Atlantic Beach the 100-year flood zones are delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) published by the National Flood Insurance Program. These flood zones are based on topographical elevation, water table elevation, soils and historical flooding information. On the barrier island, storm surge is the most likely source of our flood hazards. In other areas, ponding causes a majority of the flooding. The flood hazard boundaries are established by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and can be found on the FIRM map. The FIRM map of our area can be found at the City's Building Department, at all public libraries, and on the Duval County Property Appraiser Website under the Geographical Information System window.
Laws Regulating Discharge of Stormwater
Stormwater is a substantial threat to our nation's water supply. Only recently have strong regulations been passed that reduces runoff pollution to our drinking, recreational & fishery waters. The Clean Water Act helped reduce industrial and wastewater discharges but did little to address the widespread pollutant loading from our storms. In the 1970's, the St. Johns River Water Management District began requiring private development to retain a portion of their stormwater on-site. This regulation (FAC 40C-42) greatly helped reduce runoff from private properties. Now the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is enforcing strict stormwater regulation on cities and counties. Cities and counties across the nation are greatly reducing the pollutants from stormwater. Legislation, called NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Program), greatly improved our waters. Atlantic Beach is a Co-Permittee, along with Jacksonville, Neptune Beach and FDOT for our Municipally Separate Stormwater System (MS-4). This permit requires implementation and monitoring of Best Management Practices (BMPs) throughout the City to reduce pollutant discharges to our waterways.
Amount of Runoff from Atlantic Beach
This is a simple mathematical equation if we multiply the rainfall over all of the area where rain can't soak in. If we conservatively assume that only 40% of the rain does not percolate into the ground - turns into runoff - then a 1-inch rainfall will translate into nearly three million gallons of runoff flowing into our ditches and lagoons.
Considering the residential and commercial development in Atlantic Beach, we cannot stop all of the runoff into our ditches and lagoons. Where we have room, we can significantly reduce the volume by creating swales for runoff retention. As we redevelop, we now require that private developments retain a portion of their runoff. In spots where we have little room for retention, we can at least reduce the amount of dirt, leaves, grass clippings and debris in the runoff by constructing various kinds of "filters" such as the baffle boxes installed during the Core City Improvements Project.
The function of storm drains is to collect storm runoff from private property and the City's right-of-way. The storm drain inlets lead to pipes that run to the nearest pond, ditch or lagoon. The good news is they keep the roads and private property from flooding. The bad news is, although convenient, it destroys the quality of our waters and the habitat that it supports unless it receives some form of stormwater treatment before discharge to the Intracoastal Waterway. Storm runoff is the greatest threat to our national waters' health. Residents should help keep the curb and gutters clean and free of debris.