By Dan Moffett
Residents of Inlet Cay in Ocean Ridge may soon have some clear answers about the chronic drainage problems that have plagued their island community for decades.
In December, town commissioners gave their blessing to a two-part plan to diagnose and treat the worsening issues with floods. They turn driveways into wading pools during king tides and heavy rainfalls.
First, the commission approved a contract with Higgins Engineering Inc. to study the neighborhood’s drainage system and propose ways to improve it. The study will begin immediately and take three to four months to complete, at a preliminary cost of $22,400.
Robert Higgins, president of the West Palm Beach company, said he will try to answer questions about the man-made island’s stability that have concerned residents for years — especially those along Spanish River Drive at the northern end, where flooding has been worst.
“I know the town has been questioning, is the island sinking?” Higgins told the commission on Dec. 4.
The 25-acre island, which sits in the Intracoastal Waterway north of Town Hall, was built mostly with fill during the late 1960s. Today the neighborhood has about 60 homes.
“At first blush, the system has very limited capacity,” Higgins said of the network of drains and pipes.
The second part of the Inlet Cay plan is hiring TeleVac South, a Pompano Beach drain cleaning and repair company, to take over maintenance of the town’s roughly 18,000 linear feet of pipes.
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb brought in TeleVac to replace the town’s former maintenance contractor, which went out of business this fall. In November, TeleVac began surveying all the drainage pipes in Ocean Ridge, mapping the network and running closed- circuit TV cameras through it.
Company President Dennis Simmons said many problems on Inlet Cay were apparent, and construction-related: plaster and concrete debris restricting flow in the pipes, breaks and leaks, dirt and sand clogging openings. He said one drain opening had been rendered useless because a driveway had been built over it.
Titcomb said the town’s contract with TeleVac calls for the company to inspect and make repairs throughout Ocean Ridge in the coming years, beginning with Inlet Cay.