While Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s approach, The Villages’ top water manager said the community is ready for heavy rains. “Based on the current predicted rainfall from Hurricane Dorian, The Villages’ water management system is in good shape,” said Trey Arnett, the community’s utilities engineer for 23 years. The Villages’ unique system is designed to withstand 10 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, he said, adding that “this system provides residents the same level of expectations from one end of the community to the other.” For instance, when Hurricane Irma dropped from 12 to 15 inches of rain in about 18 hours on Sept. 10, 2017, there was no water in homes because they were built with floor elevations higher than the streets. Only a few roads had minor flooding when water backed up from the drains, he said.
“We had no widespread flooding that other areas experienced,” Arnett noted. “And that came on the heels of 30-plus inches of rainfall from June through August that year.”
That’s because The Villages uses a closed basin drainage model that doesn’t rely on nearby rivers or lakes to drain away excess water. Instead, it pumps excess stormwater to golf courses and other open areas when neighborhood retention ponds near capacity.
Residents may see sprinklers running on golf courses and other common areas during rain storms to reduce the water in nearby retention ponds to an appropriate level.
The system also collects excess rain from yards and recycles it as a water source for irrigation and fire suppression.
That not only lessens the risk of flooding but also limits withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer, Arnett said.
The fourth named storm of the hurricane season, Dorian, strengthened Wednesday into a hurricane near the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, and by the weekend it may threaten Florida’s coast as a Category 3 storm.
Residents have been heeding the governor’s urging to have seven days of supplies, prepare their homes and follow the storm track closely. Several area gas stations already were out of fuel at the end of the day Wednesday.
Today at 9 a.m., a group of Sumter County contractors are making available free sandbags at the corner of U.S. Highway 301 and County Road 526 in Sumterville. Galaxy Electric and T&D Construction are leading the effort. For more information, call Steve Munz at 352-266-4270.
Senior writer David R. Corder can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.