Natural and Beneficial Functions of the Gulfport Floodplain
NATURAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS OF THE GULFPORT FLOODPLAIN
Gulfport’s floodplain plays an important role during those times when the low lying areas of the city are covered by water during a flood. The City’s floodplain carries and stores flood waters, and its capacity to do that protects human life and property from flood damage. The Gulfport floodplain contains natural and developed areas that have benefits for all of us, including:
- Habitat for Plants and Animals. Mangroves, trees and other vegetative growth found along the natural shoreline within Clam Bayou and the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club provide important resting, feeding, and nesting areas for many waterfowl species. These areas have a natural biological diversity and are productive for birds, fish, and other wildlife. The mangroves provide an ecosystem that captures nutrients and plant debris and serve as prime nurseries for fish, shrimp, crabs, and waterfowl. As an added bonus, the roots protect the shorelines from wind and wave erosion.
- Water Quality. Vegetation and soils found within our City’s floodplain serve as water filters, intercepting surface water runoff before reaching Boca Ciega Bay. This process aids in the removal of excess nutrients, pollutants, and sediments from the water. In turn, the need for costly clean up from pollutants and sediment removal is reduced. Within the developed areas of the floodplain, stormwater management is provided by pipes and swales leading to detention/retention ponds that result in improved water quality entering Boca Ciega Bay. The lake at the Ted Phillips Wood-Ibis Park is an excellent example of a project that is improving water quality.
- Stormwater Management. Ted Phillips Wood-Ibis Park is a stormwater management system designed to treat runoff from nearly 62 urban acres. Previously, the runoff historically exceeded the existing capacity causing flooding and untreated discharge at the Municipal Beach. This project diverts the runoff from an area that is bordered by Gulfport Boulevard to the north, Beach Boulevard South to the east, 58th Street South on the west, and 28th Avenue South on the south. The storm sewer system was designed for a 10-year frequency while the treatment (pond) was designed for the 25-year frequency storm. The method of treatment includes settlement and biological assimilation. Recreational opportunities include a walking trail, benches, and wildlife observation.
- Retention and Creation of Greenspace. The City of Gulfport has preserved and created some exciting, unique, and beautiful greenspaces within its floodplain. Clam Bayou, Clam Bayou Nature Park, Gulfport Veteran’s Memorial Park, the Municipal Beach, and Wood-Ibis Park are all examples of green spaces in floodplain areas that serve multiple uses and purposes. Flood hazard retention, wetland protection, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, outdoor education, and recreational opportunities are some of the benefits of these greenspace parks.
The City encourages all of its residents to visit these parks. Note the values and benefits provided in addition to enjoying the beautiful aesthetics of Boca Ciega Bay and the parks themselves. The City has provided protection to these greenspaces within the flood zone for everyone to enjoy. Gulfport’s natural and greenspaces within the City are protected through the enforcement of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Map, and the Zoning Code and Map. Land use designations of Preservation or Recreation/Open Space will prevent residential or commercial uses from occurring on the site. Clam Bayou is designated as Preservation. Clam Bayou Nature Park and the Ted Phillips Wood-Ibis Park are designated as Recreation/Open Space. Wetlands found within the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club are designated as Preservation. Many goals and objectives within the Coastal Management and Conservation Element protect natural areas, wetlands, greenspaces, and the elements that create natural and beneficial functions of the City’s floodplain. Within those goals and objectives, the City has a policy that protects the Right-Of-Way areas that end at the shoreline of Boca Ciega Bay for public access. Likewise, the City Zoning Codes includes an Open Space designation category that is used to preserve green space located in the floodplain. Clam Bayou, Clam Bayou Nature Park, and Ted Phillips Wood-Ibis Park is designated Open Space. The Municipal Beach is protected in the Community Redevelopment District’s (land use designation) and Waterfront Redevelopment District’s (zoning designation) Waterfront Area Redevelopment Plan through the designation of Recreation/Open Space.