New Port Richey residents complain about flooding
NEW PORT RICHEY - Once flood-prone, the widened section of Main Street handled nearly all the floodwaters Tropical Storm Debby hurled at it in late June. Residents on the nearby Canopy Oaks Court, however, say the changes in drainage on Main Street are redirecting more water their way and threatening houses. "I want them to make it right," resident Deborah Volpatti said. A few dozen homes lie along the street on the south side of Main, about midway between Congress Street and Rowan Road. Pasco County officials are still investigating the complaints since they had believed less water is heading toward the homes after the Main Street project. They are researching if drainage problems will persist or whether historic rainfall from Debby created a one-time event.Penny for Pasco funds paid for the joint county project with the city of New Port Richey. County staff designed the bulk of the project. Pine bark used for landscaping ground cover floated during storms and clogged some Main Street drainage inlets, said Jim Widman, Pasco director of engineering services. Water flowed over the curb and caused water to back up in one spot, Widman said during a recent phone interview. Widman was consulting with his staff about changing the type of ground cover for a strip about 3 feet wide and 50 to 100 feet long. Commissioner Henry Wilson toured the area in mid-August with Widman, other county staff members, Volpatti and another neighbor. "We spent two hours with her looking and talking about the items she was referencing," Wilson wrote in an Aug. 17 email reply to inquiries. "We were trying to connect the dots and try to find out where the water was coming from that Mrs. Volpatti stated was flooding her," Wilson said. The drainage was identified as one contributing cause for some of the overflow water, Wilson said. "I advised her that I would be researching how much of this was because of TS Debby (with which there was little more the county could do with that volume of water) and if there were negative changes due to the recent road improvements," Wilson added. Wilson wrote that he had hoped to have an answer for Volpatti by Aug. 17. Volpatti said on Aug. 31 that she had not heard back from Wilson or other officials. She is concerned flooding problems could persist since her house lies at the bottom of a hill sloping down steeply from Main Street. Volpatti and neighbor Harold J. O'Connell showed the sandbags that had been placed near the top of a large drainage pipe underneath Main Street. If that pipe becomes clogged, the water could flow downstream toward the homes, O'Connell said. A swale is shared with the Wilds subdivision while a trough ferries water behind homes on the street to a mobile home park. The widening project also appeared to the two residents to elevate Main Street at the intersection with Canopy Oaks Court. Volpatti said she hadn't realized how many protected species also live near the wetlands in the neighborhood. She believes wildlife are abandoning the area. "The Florida environment is so fragile," Volpatti said.