Florida real estate effects of sinkholes in the same Floridan Aquifer that underlies Lowndes County would be worth looking at before rushing to build Moody Housing around a sinkhole on Val Del Road. It’s not just the sinkhole that may widen, it’s housing prices that may drop.
Diana Olick wrote for CNBC 15 August 2013, Overdevelopment widens Florida sinkhole problem,
Sinkholes may be as old as the earth itself, but the increase in sinkhole activity is new. The rush to reason why has put scientists, engineers and real estate developers at odds.
DAVID MANNING / Reuters
A section of the Summer Bay Resort lies collapsed after a large sinkhole opened on the property’s grounds in Clermont, Fla. on Aug. 12.
Some geological experts believe the sinkhole activity is increasing because developers are pumping more water out of the ground for new projects or for agricultural use. While acid in the water itself is what causes the limestone under much of Florida to dissipate and create the holes, the water also acts as a support. Add water from heavy rains on the top soil, and you’ve got a bigger problem.
Recent sinkholes of note in Lowndes County include:
- One in Snake Nation Road the county paid more than $600,000 to route around once it spread, after first wasting money trying to patch it. That change order was rushed through with no competitive bids, too.
- One in Michael McCormick’s garage on Norman Hall Road that the county still has done nothing to fix, so far as I know.
- “Some students might remember the sinkhole that opened up behind the Oak Street parking deck a few years ago.”
- And let’s not forget Lake Park’s lakes are probably sinkholes, so you will have some idea of how big a sinkhole can get.
What about sinkhole insurance?
“The number of insurance claims for sinkhole damage has increased significantly over the last several years. According to Office of Insurance Regulation, total reported claims in Florida increased from 2,360 in 2006 to 3,135 in 2010, according to Citizens Property Insurance Corp. website. “The Florida Insurance Commissioner has identified sinkhole claims as a major cost-driver and expressed concern that these claims could threaten the solvency of Florida’s property insurance market.”
Sinkhole insurance can run anywhere from around $200 to $2,000 depending on where a home is located. The Tampa Bay area is considered “Sinkhole Alley,” but some have referred to Florida as the “Swiss Cheese State.”
Does Lowndes County want to be known as Sinkhole County?
Here’s a developer whistling from his sinkholed development:
“Mother Earth controls this,” said Paul Caldwell, president and general manager of the Summer Bay resort where Sunday’s collapse occurred. He said its developer does not build in “dense” areas. “We test as we develop.”
Still, one third of the sinkhole activity recorded since 1960 occurred in the last 13 years; half of that happened in the last three years.
Which would you rather believe? A developer making a quick buck, or the numbers that say sinkholes are rapidly increasing in Florida? Florida, which is on top of the same Floridan Aquifer we are?
“In the last probably five or six years, yeah, there’s been a boom in more sinkholes being tested, confirmed,” said Frank Vitale of L.R.E. Ground Services, a sinkhole remediation company in business for the past 25 years. He said his company has done over 4,500 jobs, large and small.
“There’s definitely more work in the last five years,” he said. “It could be a lot of different things. It could be the aquifer. It could be settlement issues, clay issues, buried debris. There’s a million factors that can play into it, and that’s why it’s really important for an engineer to come in and assess the problem.”