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Nalle Grade Stormwater Park

Monday, January 4th, 2021
A decade in the making, the Nalle Grade Stormwater Park project in North Fort Myers is now complete and open to the public. 

Initially envisioned in 2010 as a conceptual stormwater improvement project to provide flood mitigation benefits to the overall watershed for Bayshore Creek, the Nalle Grade Stormwater Park design grew to include water quality benefits to the Tidal Caloosahatchee, and also water conservation, recreation, and ecological enhancement.

The 80-acre site had a portion used by the Lee County Archers for several years and an occasional family picnic, but the remainder of the park was typical Florida flatwoods with a substantial wetland feature. Due to the terrain, the park had limited usage, but the land was a perfect location for water storage and treatment. Lee County Natural Resources worked closely with Lee County Lands and Lee County Parks and Recreation to bring the Nalle Grade Stormwater Park project to fruition.

As a result, the park now provides pollutant removal and flood protection to Bayshore Creek by pumping water flows through a treatment train that includes a linear filter marsh, retention area, and restored wetland. A stormwater pump station contains dual 5,000 gpm low-head pumps sending water through two above-ground impoundments capable of providing up to 145 ac-ft of storage.

The flood reduction in the upper portion of the Bayshore Creek Watershed provides benefits to the downstream surface water conveyance by reducing peak flows experienced. The storage of water on the site improves groundwater flows to the Caloosahatchee during the dry season, which helps the river’s hydrologic condition and further improves the water quality. Through all the changes and upgrades, the park’s recreational benefits were also improved. In addition to the existing archery range, park visitors can now enjoy the park for hiking, fishing, and bird watching.

Our team provided on-site construction engineering and inspection (CEI) services during construction. We also provided a wide range of additional services for this multi-dimensional project that went beyond the typical efforts of a CEI consultant. One of our firm’s key strengths is the diversity in services we provide in-house, and we drew upon those resources to provide Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) 319 Grant assistance, a Quality Assurance Project Plan, and rigorous Davis-Bacon wage compliance review. The FDEP appreciates the timely filing of reports with the proper information. Entities that provide this type of information as requested usually rank better on future requests for funds.

Our team also designed public education signage throughout the park to help park visitors understand graphically how the park’s design will provide flood mitigation and how it will help to treat stormwater. The educational signage is often a component of receiving grant funds under the State administered 319 programs. Our landscape architecture group provided their unique graphical skills to design these signs, as they have done for several of our client’s projects.

Highlighting our strengths as a multidisciplinary firm, our in-house licensed drone pilot was able to provide a new mapping service for this project. Each month during construction, we sent the drone on an autonomous and pre-programmed flight to take photos at regular intervals as it covered the entire park area. Our GIS specialist then took these location-based photos and used automated stitching software to combine them into one georeferenced image. We were able to stitch and georectify 360 high-resolution photographs in the same amount of time it takes to manually georeference a single aerial image. Our ability to show the entire 60-acre project area in a single snapshot helped Lee County demonstrate continued construction progress in a clear and concise manner in their grant reimbursement requests to FDEP. The mapping also proved useful when reviewing the contractor’s monthly pay invoices, as it provided the ability to review the entire site in a single view on a single date, in lieu of combing through hundreds if not a thousand or more ground-based photographs taken over the course of the month.

Johnson Engineering is proud to provide our knowledge and expertise on projects that will have a positive impact on the local ecosystem. This project is just another piece of the puzzle that will help bring us a step closer in improving our water quality and quality of life for our south Florida communities’ residents and visitors.

For more information, contact Jordan Varble, PE at [email protected].