Hurricane Ian delays closure of Lakeshore Drive in Deltona as part of straw project hiccup

Deltona officials along with St. Johns Water Management District officials break ground on the Florida Straw Project, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2022.
Deltona officials along with St. Johns Water Management District officials break ground on the Florida Straw Project, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

DELTONA — Plans to close part of Lakeshore Drive this week so a contractor can stabilize an embankment as part of the Florida Straw Project have been postponed due to Hurricane Ian.

Glenn Whitcomb, the city's deputy utility director, said by phone Monday that metal sheet piles are in place and should prevent any washout as a result of possible impacts from Ian.

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At this juncture, the road closure may not go into effect until the week of Oct. 17, Whitcomb said.

The reason a road closure is needed again came to light during the Sept. 19 City Commission meeting.

John Peters III, while serving as acting city manager, said Tetra Tech brought in Universal Engineering Sciences to conduct borings of the straw project site.

"Unfortunately, they did not do a piezometric head evaluation, and so consequently, when they started digging, when we reached down about 20 feet or so, we hit an artesian well," Peters said.

A piezometric head evaluation is a specific measurement of liquid pressure above a vertical starting point.

An artesian well, according to the St. Johns River Water Management District, "is a well that has been drilled into an aquifer in a location where the underground pressure is great enough for the water to rise inside the well."

"In some cases, the water is under enough pressure to rise from the aquifer to the land’s surface without need of a pump," the management district's website states.

Universal Engineering Sciences declined comment through a spokesperson.

Peters said they realized an alternative was needed when workers couldn't get a dry enough environment to proceed with construction.

"It was determined we couldn't get back to the original site because it had become so impacted by the artesian well that we can’t even do a cofferdam," Peters said.

According to, an information site for engineering professionals, a cofferdam is "the temporary structure that is built to keep the water away from the execution site, so that the structure can be built on the dry surface."

Peters, a professional engineer, said any difference above what the cost would have been if it were properly engineered with a cofferdam at the outset will be submitted to the engineering firm's insurance company.

"It is our opinion that the engineer was negligent in not doing the proper testing," Peters said.

He said the artesian well wasn't surprising given the proximity of Green Springs and the discharge into the river near the Florida United Methodist Children's Home.

In January, the city and the St. Johns River Water Management District broke ground on the straw project, which will withdraw up to 12 million gallons of surface water per day, at build-out, to supplement Deltona's reclaimed water supply.

Additional concerns

Peters said the city continues receiving complaints about vehicles speeding on Garfield Road where the speed limit is 40 mph.

Garfield, a county road, was used as a detour while part of Lakeshore was temporarily closed.

Peters said the county is ready to lift the temporary lowering of the speed limit on Garfield that was enacted during the closure of Lakeshore, also a county road.

Commissioner Dana McCool noted the vehicle wrecks that have occurred on Garfield due to speeding and said she thinks making changes to the speed limit until the project is complete is a horrible idea.

Mayor Heidi Herzberg said in addition to reducing the speed on Garfield, the county "indulged the city in shutting down Lakeshore Drive for a longer than necessary period because of this mess."

McCool said residents also have raised concerns about the clearing of trees along Lakeshore and the overall impact on the area's natural beauty.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Hurricane Ian delays Lakeshore closure in Deltona due to straw project gaff