Send a letter to the County Commissioners below, demanding that the county right-size its pond maintenance crews and increase pay for the stormwater pond maintenance staff. We've provided an email, but we want your input. Add your own experiences, and include a picture of the failing stormwater pond in your neighborhood!
Escambia County has a multi-year backlog on pond maintenance that is increasing your flood risk and creating a county-wide eye sore. The backlog is driven by a severe staff shortage. Low wages in Escambia’s Public Works Department has led to 40 unfilled jobs - no one wants to work for less than what local construction companies pay. Take 1 minute to tell the County Commissioners to use common sense to hire the staff or bring in contractors to fix the ponds & ditches!
9.14.21 Progress Update
We have sent over 410 emails to County Commissiondemanding that they follow maintenance requirements for these essential flood protection structures and they are listening.
County Staff is allocating workers to give the ponds and ditches the maintenance they need. Maintenance teams have been spotted on-site this week!
Copper Forest Estates
- Under Capacity for big storms
- Drain needs to be replaced
- Supposed to operate as a dry pond
- Slopes too steep to maintain properly
- Needs a new sand chimney
- Doesn't function properly
Rolling Hills @ Bedgood Lane
- Pond doesn't have an outfall
- Local pit fills pond with sand
Why are these ponds so important?
Escambia relies heavily on ponds to prevent our streets and homes from flooding. There are 900 permitted ponds for subdivisions alone, each protecting the families and homes surrounding it.
1. Ponds take in rainfall that the county receives (average of 70 inches per year)
2. Ponds hold the rainfall for hours days or weeks
3. What would have been floodwater drains back into the ground or is released slowly
"The county’s list doesn’t include private ponds on commercial sites, private lakes, irrigation ponds, natural ponds, wetlands, cattle watering ponds, and ponds that were created before permits were required. All told, there are probably more than 2,000 ponds in Escambia."
Former Escambia County Stormwater Manager
The pond maintenance problem
Experts say that ponds should be inspected monthly, with more significant maintenance (e.g., mowing, invasive species removal, depth measurement, beaver removal, shoreline stabilization) conducted 3-4 times per year. Complete rehabilitation (i.e. dredging to maintain depth, replacement of filtration and overflow systems) should occur every 3-5 years. If this work isn’t done, then bad things happen - like sediment stopping the pond’s ability to drain itself. Here’s the issue, though: Escambia County doesn’t have the staff to get all this work done.
Escambia’s Public Works staff starts at $14 per hour - that’s for hot, tough work, and it requires a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to even be considered. When construction companies in town start employees with a CDL license at $20 per hour, workers don’t stay with Public Works, and the department has trouble finding new staff.
What’s the result of small, underpaid staff?
Massive maintenance backlogs and stormwater ponds that are neither nice to look at nor effective for flood prevention. The county is failing its residents, and it’s time to do something about it. The county should:
Right-size its stormwater pond maintenance crews or hire contractors to make sure that ponds are inspected, mowed, and rehabilitated at the frequency experts suggest
Increase pay for stormwater pond maintenance staff to a level that attracts and retains workers