Clay County Public Works Department purchases additional equipment to prepare for hurricane season

Zoey Fields

The Clay County Public Works Department recently purchased a new Vac-Con Single Engine Combination Machine to help with the ongoing maintenance of stormwater drainage systems in the county and to prepare for hurricane season.

This specialized piece of equipment can identify where a clog or defect is in the storm drain, so crews can clear the line or make any needed repairs, Clay County Public Information Officer Annaleasa Winter said.

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New Vac-Con machine to prepare for hurricane season in Clay County.Clay County Government

Last year, upgrades were made to the camera unit so crews can also send a small camera inside the storm pipe and determine the extent of any damage that needs to be repaired.

This is the second Vac-Con machine the Public Works team has purchased, allowing them to prepare for hurricane season as all components of the stormwater systems are inspected and cleared.

Special attention is given to clearing debris out of retention ponds and underground drainage structures that carry stormwater away from streets and houses to retention ponds, Winter said. Drainage systems in areas of the county that have experienced localized flooding in the past are given priority for cleanout. Other areas are prioritized when residents call in with drainage issues.

The Vac-Cons have a 180-degree articulating hose reel with 600 feet of hose and a nozzle that sprays highly pressurized water through a storm pipe to loosen any mud, leaves, sticks, or other debris that may be clogging the pipes. The vacuum hose then draws the water and loosened debris back into a storage tank on the unit for proper disposal. In the field, the Vac-Con can be easily refilled at a fire hydrant.

The trucks were purchased from the Vac-Con headquarters in Green Cove Springs, which allowed Public Works employees to visit the office on US 17 while the machine was being constructed.

The team involved in the operation and maintenance helped develop the specification package for the purchase, Winter said. Being involved in the specifications allowed employees to have hands-on training for Clay County operators and mechanics.

Additional, periodic training will be on an “as needed” basis, she said.

The stormwater system is flushed clean at each access point all the way to the outlet at the stormwater pond to ensure runoff can flow unobstructed, and the system can handle the heavy downpours associated with tropical storms.

Clay County Board Chairman Wayne Bolla said, “Commissioners have made it a priority to provide our Public Works Department with the equipment they need to keep our stormwater systems functioning properly, and this new Vac-Con unit is a great investment for Clay County.”

The county also has a link set up where residents can find their evacuation zone in the case of a hurricane — find yours here.

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