Managing canal water elevations is a balancing act
The District’s water management system helps to protect regional water supplies for more than 700,000 residents and an estimated 10,000 acres of agricultural land. During normal operations, canal water levels are maintained to hold water higher than sea level to prevent saltwater from encroaching and polluting existing freshwater wells for numerous municipal water utilities. Water managers are continually monitoring weather systems and canal levels to proactively respond to heavy rainfall events. In anticipation of a heavy rainfall event, the District water control structures are opened to maintain appropriate water levels in the system. As gates are opened, water is discharged to the ocean and cannot be recovered for water supply. These freshwater discharges may also adversely impact environmentally sensitive areas such as the Lake Worth Lagoon.
Each weather event has its own characteristics and must be managed as it develops. Radar and other weather reporting technology, along with constant communication with emergency management entities, are utilized to assist District staff responding to weather events. Currently, significant investments are being made to enhance flood control and public safety operations with the installation of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA will essentially automate the operation of 10 major water control structures within the District’s service boundary. The system will allow for the remote operation of flood control gates and pumps to react immediately to changes in water levels. As water levels rise, the flood control gates will automatically open for flood protection. Similarly, as water levels return to normal the gates will close. This is a multi-year project that includes electrical upgrades, tower installations, mechanical enhancements and software applications. Residents can monitor the progress of the project on our website at www.lwdd.net/managing-water/scada-project.