Flood Control In South Florida A Shared Responsibility

Flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility and is achieved through an interconnected, three-tiered drainage system. Neighborhood drainage systems, or tertiary systems, are operated by property owners or residential associations. Secondary flood control canals are operated by the Lake Worth Drainage District, and primary flood control is provided by the South Florida Water Management District.

The Lake Worth Drainage District works closely with the South Florida Water Management District before, during and after rainfall events to provide flood control for the residents of Palm Beach County.

Water managers are continually monitoring weather systems and canal levels in order to proactively respond to heavy rainfall events. In anticipation of a heavy rainfall event, the Lake Worth Drainage District water control structures are opened in order to maintain appropriate water levels in the system.

Residential communities are designed to retain water in swales and onsite detention ponds. With prior authorization from the Lake Worth Drainage District, excess stormwater may be discharged into District canals through control structures with fixed or operable weirs to prevent flooding of property.

Flood Protection Does Not Equal Flood Proof

Most modern day residential drainage systems do not require any human intervention. Since the mid-1970s, development standards for drainage systems have been regulated through design and permitting to ensure flood protection. Average rainfall will flow into onsite stormwater retention ponds or lakes through swales and drains. During heavy rain events, systems are designed to protect house floor pads. Temporary flooding of streets and parking lots is expected.

Flooding may be experienced when extreme volumes of rain falls in a brief period of time, and rainfall exceeds the water management system design. Flooding may also occur when culverts and storm drains are blocked with materials and vegetation.