Technology & Flood Control

As the end of Hurricane Season approaches, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. No more listening for storm alerts and watches. No more storing of canned-goods, batteries, and water. No more worrying about flooding. Wait; not so fast, localized flooding in South Florida is always a possibility. It is just a fact; mother nature tries every day to return our area to the original swamp lands of yesteryear, and every day the Lake Worth Drainage District’s canal system works to keep that from happening.

Occurring any time of the year, our tropical rainstorms can be intense and seriously threaten property and life. In response, District staff monitors canal elevations daily and coordinates the operations of water control structures. Water control structures act like dams, allowing stormwater to be released or held back depending on the conditions. The automated technology used to operate the District’s water control structures is called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). As the water rises in the canal and reaches a pre-determined elevation, SCADA will slowly open control structures releasing water for flood control. Similarly, as water elevations return to normal levels the control structure gates will close, holding water back for conservation and water supply demands. In anticipation of severe weather, District staff can override the automated SCADA system and make manual adjustments.

Additionally, SCADA technology eliminates the need for District staff to venture out during dangerous weather conditions to operate control structures. If needed, staff can adjust a control structure via a mobile device from any location, thus significantly reducing response time. Another advantage to SCADA, is the capture of operational data by the system which can be used to evaluate future water supply needs and historical flood control responses. This data can be shared with regional water management partners for enhanced flood control coordination and water conservation measures.

With approximately 500 miles of canals and 20 major water control structures, the Lake Worth Drainage District is one of the largest water control districts in Florida. We are proud to provide our residents with this enhanced water management technology and dependable flood control

Man cleaning flooded home

LWDD Helps Reduce Flood Insurance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood map informs your community about its local flood risk. It helps establish minimum floodplain standards so that your community builds safely and resiliently. It determines the cost of flood insurance, which helps property owners to financially protect themselves against flooding. The lower your degree of risk, the lower your flood insurance premium will be.

A community typically will be re-mapped because of population growth and development, better science, and changing conditions. FEMA and state and local governments develop partnerships and identify available data, which are used to aid in the discussion and design of the flood map.

The Lake Worth Drainage District plays an important role in the production of accurate maps for our service area. Current and historic flood-related data including hydrology, infrastructure, and hydraulics, were used to determine risk identification and assessment. Because of Lake Worth Drainage District’s canal network, water control structures, and regular maintenance program, many of our communities remained in FEMA’s lower risk areas. Final flood maps are posted to the online FEMA Map Service Center, making them easily accessible to the public at

Backyard landscaping encroaching on right of way

Private Use of Public Lands

The Lake Worth Drainage District (District) canal rights-of-way may be owned in fee or encumbered by an easement. This is to provide the required access to maintain the canal channel for drainage and water supply. Over the years, certain portions of the District’s canal rights-of-way have become obstructed by unauthorized encroachments that infringe on the District’s ability to provide flood control to all areas within our boundary. Additionally, the occupation of publicly-owned rights-of-way or easements is a violation of Florida Statue Chapter 298.66[1]; and may place additional liabilities on the adjacent property owner.

If may seem unreasonable to some people, but property owners adjacent to the District’s canals are not entitled to additional use-rights by virtue of their location. The primary purpose of the canals system is providing flood control to an estimated 750,000 residents within the District’s boundary. Whether you are among the property owners adjacent to a canal right-of-way or the majority of those located miles inland, the health, safety and welfare of our residents is of equal importance.

Approximately two years ago, the Lake Worth Drainage District established the Canal Rehabilitation Program to identify obstructed rights-of-way and systematically remove the encroachments. Rehabilitation efforts may include removal of vegetative encroachments, removal of structural and non-structural encroachments, dredging of the canal channel, and reshaping or reconstruction of the canal bank. During the canal rehabilitation process, no vegetation is removed from private property. No roadways are being constructed along the drainage canals, and no drainage canals are being enlarged. Learn the facts, not rumors, about canal rehabilitation at


[1]298.66 Obstruction of public drainage canals, etc., prohibited; damages; penalties. —(1) A person may not willfully, or otherwise, obstruct any public canal, drain, ditch or watercourse or damage or destroy any public drainage works constructed in or maintained by any district. (2) Any person who willfully obstructs any public canal, drain, ditch, or watercourse or damages or destroys any public drainage works constructed in or maintained by any district shall be liable to any person injured thereby for the full amount of the injury occasioned to any land or crops or other property by reason of such misconduct and shall be liable to the district constructing the drainage work for double the cost of removing such obstruction or repairing such damage. (3) Any person who willfully, or otherwise, obstructs any public canal, drain, ditch, or watercourse, impedes or obstructs the flow of water therein, or damages or destroys any public drainage works constructed in or maintained by any district commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.