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Maintenance Enhanced With Drones

Approximately three years ago, the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) began implementing the flying of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) commonly known as drones to monitor the canals, rights-of-way and flood control structures within its 200 square miles of service area.

The drones are used as a professional tool to gather data, take images and video. The ‘bird’s eye-view’ provides a unique perspective that can quickly identify issues so that corrective actions can be taken before they develop into costly repairs. Due to their small size, the drones can reach areas difficult to inspect from the ground. They perform quickly and in a repetitive manner providing accurate and consistent data. Drone flights can cover large geographical areas using a two-man crew in a stationary location. This helps minimize inspection costs and avoids exposure of personnel to possible environmental risks and injuries.

LWDD deployed its drones after Hurricanes Irma & Michael. The results were very beneficial in post-storm assessments by aiding recovery teams to efficiently identify damage sites and prioritize response efforts. The data captured by the drone flights can be mapped and used for future emergency response planning by water managers.
LWDD’s operators strictly adhere to the Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) regulations and are cognizant of surrounding homes during flights. The District’s drone operators hold a certification from the FAA, and follow strict safety practices. The use of UAS systems is one of the more recent additions to LWDD’s flood control toolbox.

The Lake Worth Drainage District is committed to implementing new technologies that will enhance flood control operations for the estimated 750,000 residents within its boundaries. For more information on the various methods used for flood control, visit

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Flood Control Checkup

Throughout the year, the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) oversees the operation and maintenance of approximately 500 miles of canals and 1,000 miles of canal rights-of-way. In addition, LWDD operates 20 major water control structures which release or hold back water depending on conditions. However, effective flood control takes more than just LWDD. Property owners and residential communities all have a role to play in the overall flood control system.

In South Florida, flood control is a shared responsibility and is achieved through an interconnected, three-tiered drainage system. This three-tiered system is made up of tertiary or neighborhood drainage systems operated by property owners or residential associations. Secondary drainage systems which are operated by LWDD, county or municipalities, and the primary system operated by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

The role of property owners and residential associations is similar to LWDD in that they retain stormwater onsite in retention ponds/lakes for water quality purposes and discharge excess stormwater for flood control. They must maintain their drainage infrastructure to ensure that inlets, pipes and discharge control structures are working as designed.

South Florida’s dry season runs from approximately November through May. January is the ideal time of year to conduct inspections of drainage infrastructure and make any necessary repairs. Additionally, the start of a new year is when many residential boards hold elections and change property management companies. It is important to register these changes with LWDD to ensure the correct individuals are receiving important weather alerts and flood control instructions. Taking time during the dry season will help ensure that your property is ready for the coming rainy season. For more information on flood control or to submit contact information, visit LWDD’s website at

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