Control Structure

A Diversion And Impoundment System

The Lake Worth Drainage District (District) is considered a ‘Diversion & Impoundment’ water management system under the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) rule for consumptive water use. A diversion and impoundment system will divert surface water through a pump or water control structure, or a combination of surface and groundwater to a conveyance canal which the owner has legal control to operate and maintain for the purposes of providing for the reasonable and beneficial demands of secondary users.

There are two categories of secondary users, independent and dependent. The distinction between these two categories is related to the way the secondary user attains its consumptive water use right. Unless exempt, independent secondary users must obtain a consumptive water use right through their own South Florida Water Management District permit. Dependent secondary users may be incorporated into the Lake Worth Drainage District’s permit. An example of an independent user is a municipal water utility or residential community with retention ponds/lakes. Dependent users may be agricultural landowners or individual property owners who have historical water use rights.

The District’s main source of consumptive water use is allocated from SFMWD canals and Water Conservation Area 1. Because the water within the District’s canal system is used to recharge the surficial aquifer and some municipal wellfields, it is important to keep water levels in the canals at beneficial elevations to protect drinking water supplies.

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Approved

On August 15, 2018 the LWDD’s Board of Supervisors adopted the fiscal year 2019 operating budget. The approximate $18 million budget reflects LWDD’s continued commitment to maintenance and operations with substantial resources appropriated for canal rehabilitation, and the refurbishment/replacement of major flood control structures. For more information, visit our website


Water Safety Around Drainage Canals

South Florida is an aquatic playground during hot summer months. The Lake Worth Drainage District’s canal system can appear to be an ideal place to cool-off and swim or spend a day fishing. However, it is important to understand that these inviting waterways can be dangerous.

District canals were not created for recreational use. They are designed to collect and convey stormwater to provide both flood control and water supply for residents and businesses within our boundary. Operation of this flood control system includes large water control structures which when opened can create a sudden change in a canal’s water elevation, as well as strong currents that may not be visible on the water’s surface. This current can catch swimmers and boaters by surprise. If close to an open structure, the undertow can create a strong enough force to pull swimmers and small boats under.

Canal rights-of-way do not have protective barriers, and banks may give way due to the soft sandy soil and rocks below. Once a person is in the water, it can be very difficult to climb out due to the steep side-slope of the canal bank. Depending on the time of day or location of the canal, cries for help may not be heard.

Many invisible dangers and submerged hazards exist in the canals like broken glass, scrap metal, bottles and cans, as well as wild animals. It is not unusual to see alligators, snapping turtles and snakes living in and near canals. Diving into a drainage canal is particularly dangerous because canal depths can vary significantly, and subsurface aquatic vegetation can tangle around extremities.

Stay safe and follow a few simple rules. Do not swim in a canal, instead head to the pool or beach. Keep a safe distance from the canal bank to avoid falling in the waterway. Always stay clear of water control structures. Visit the Drowning Prevention Coalition’s website for more water safety tips at

maintaining canal

What Is Meant by a “Well-Maintained” Canal?

The Lake Worth Drainage District’s canals exist for the purposes of flood control and water supply. Through its network of over 500 miles of drainage canals, the District provides stormwater management making the area suitable for residents, businesses and agriculture. Effective flood control is dependent on well-maintained canals and rights-of-way. But what defines “well-maintained”? A canal or right-of-way that some property owners may consider an eyesore is often considered well-maintained for effective flood control operations of the District.

Some of the necessary components for effective flood control include the free flow of water in the canal channel to divert excess stormwater from properties, and unencumbered canal rights-of-way to provide access for regular maintenance and emergency response. Through the process of aquatic vegetation removal and canal bank mowing, effective flood control is achieved.

There are numerous species of aquatic plants found within the District’s canal system. Some aquatic vegetation has the potential to slow the flow of water within the canal channel or large flood control structures. The Lake Worth Drainage District staff controls aquatic vegetation growth with the application of herbicides and mechanical removal. Although not esthetically pleasing to some property owners, algae in canals is not a threat to flood control. Because algae are very small plants that break apart easily, they can pass through drainage pipes and control structures. This is good news since the herbicide used to treat algae can be harmful to the water body.

Canal rights-of-way and banks are mowed approximately four (4) times a year. Flat-mowers mow the rights-of-way, and arm-mowers maintain the side slopes of the canals. High grass does not prevent access to canals and control structures or threaten flood control operations. Grasses and other vegetation can grow several inches in height before mowing crews return to an area. Since these areas are not fertilized or irrigated, a quarterly mowing schedule allows for the seeding and regrowth of grasses.

Although most property lines do not extend to the water’s edge, some property owners adjacent to the right-of-way may choose to maintain the grass to a higher degree through irrigation and more frequent mowing. However, this higher degree of maintenance is at their cost and no encroachments such as trees or shrubs are allowed.

Flood control and the maintenance it requires comes at a cost. All property owners within the Lake Worth Drainage District boundary, whether adjacent to a canal or miles away, are assessed at the same tax rate base on the amount of land owned. In 2019, the non-ad valorem assessment rate is $49.50 for a parcel equal to or less than an acre in size and is established by the Board of Supervisors. By providing well-maintained canal rights-of-way necessary for flood control operations, the Lake Worth Drainage District can achieve its mission of effective flood control at an affordable cost for all residents.

2019 Preliminary Budget

Public Hearing: Fiscal Year 2019 Preliminary Budget

The Lake Worth Drainage District Board of Supervisors will hold a Public Hearing on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 preliminary budget on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. at the District office, 13081 South Military Trail, Delray Beach, Florida 33484. The purpose of the Public Hearing is to receive comments from the public on the preliminary budget prior to taking final action at the District’s Board Meeting on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 @ 8:30 a.m. The Board of Supervisors may amend or alter the preliminary budget at the hearing.

The Lake Worth Drainage District is a special taxing district with the authority to collect non-ad valorem assessments from landowners within its jurisdiction. On July 11, 2018, at the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the District’s Executive Director presented the following preliminary budget for the operation of the District for the Fiscal Year 2019. The FY2019 begins October 1, 2018 and ends September 30, 2019. For FY2019, the assessment rate will be $49.50/acre or portion thereof. There is an increase in the assessment rate from FY2018 of $1.50/acre or portion thereof. The non-ad valorem assessment is included in the Notices of Proposed and Actual Property Taxes distributed by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, and collected by the Palm Beach County Tax Collector.

Click here for Preliminary Budget

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons requiring special accommodations or an interpreter to participate in these meetings is asked to advise the District at least 7 days before the meeting by contacting Melissa Wheelihan at 561.498.5363.