How Does Punta Gorda Keep the Canal System Looking So Gorgeous?

ponce inlet croppedby

When you buy a waterfront home in PGI or BSI, it’s likely to be the first time you’ve lived on a canal. While it’s exciting to have this gorgeous waterway in your backyard, it’s normal to have questions about how the Punta Gorda canal system is maintained.

Recently, we learned of plans to start dredging the Ponce de Leon inlet. I used the news to strike up a conversation with Gary Disher, Punta Gorda’s Canal Maintenance Supervisor.

Disher was nice enough to explain everything new homeowners need to know about canal maintenance and the work happening on the Ponce de Leon Inlet.

How long have you been working with our canal system?

Disher: I started out as a contractor. It’s been about 3-4 years now that I’ve been working with them at some level.

Can you tell me a little more about the canal maintenance program?

Disher: It covers anything with the seawalls, depressions behind the seawalls. We do mangrove trimming, all of the aids to navigation, and the dredging program through the navigable portion of the waterways.

What do new residents, who maybe have never lived on a canal, need to know about maintaining their seawall and canal?

Disher: The best thing is that if anything happens to their wall they can get in contact with our Public Works department and they’ll be put in contact with me or the work order will go up front. Pretty much anything that goes on with their seawall we take care of. That’s a huge benefit to a homeowner.

I understand you’re dredging the Ponce De Leon inlet. Why is the dredging necessary?

Disher: We have an ongoing dredging maintenance program. We’ve got several inlets Bass, Pompano, Ponce, and the Burnt Store subdivision and other locations within the Punta Gorda canal system.

As the tides flow through, it carries sediment. Sediment settles and eventually the bottom builds up. A yearly thing we do is go out and do maintenance dredging to make sure our home owners can get in and out with their boats to the permitted canal cross sections for depth and width. We want to make sure whoever buys a home has access to the waterways.

You dredge every year or on a rotation?

Disher: It’s on an as needed basis. I was notified of one yesterday. A resident in Burnt Store Isles bumped bottom in a certain location. They’re going to give me some GPS coordinates. Then I’ll get the contractor out there with the dredge and make sure they remove that high spot.

With the Ponce inlet, it’s been quite awhile. I’m not sure how many years it’s been since we’ve done a full re-profile dredge. We’ve gone out and hit the high spots here and there. Now I want to go ahead and go through the headpins 1 and 2 all the way into the perimeter channel and make sure the entire channel is at its designated cross section.

If you didn’t dredge, what would happen to our canal system?

Disher: It would start limiting boat access, especially the larger sailboats would not be able to get out from the canal system and if they were bringing a boat in, they wouldn’t be able to get in.

If we don’t keep that maintained, I’ll get the call–especially in the winter low tides. Even when it’s dredged, we have some rather large sailboats in the area and if they don’t stay in the middle of the channel, they can find the bottom and I get the call. We’re just being proactive. We don’t have many issues now, but I want to make sure we’re ready for the winter season with all the residents coming back in.

When will dredging in the inlet begin?

Disher: We had a pre-kickoff meeting yesterday. We discussed are staging and how we’re going to route stuff. We verified the depths.

From the boat ramp out to the headpins or 1 and 2 markers, the dredge is to 8 feet deep. From the boat ramp in—inside the inlet from the mangrove line/shoreline to where the seawall starts at the perimeter channel–that’s permitted to  6 feet deep below low mean.

And you think this will take you to the beginning of the year?

Disher: That was our estimation. A good three months of digging possibly.

What do boaters need to know about passing through the inlet during this time?
Disher: They should keep doing what they’re doing.

We’re not going to be blocking the entire channel. They may have a delay if there is other boats passing. We talked about how to set up turbidity screens to allow boaters to still get through and get out.

We just want boaters to use caution. Just be aware of the workers and the dredge. We don’t want anyone getting hurt out there.

To sum up–Gary and his team are on it! You can move here and not know the first thing about canal maintenance. In fact, you can live here for thirty years and still not know anything about canal maintenance. You just need to know the number to Public Works: 941-575-5050.

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed.