Q. What are the guidelines for the maintenance of a residential community’s drainage system?

A. Many communities within the boundary of LWDD utilize an emergency discharge control structure in the design of their internal drainage system. The guidelines for the maintenance and operation of these emergency discharge control structures and other important flood control information can be found on our website at www.lwdd.net/property-managers-hoa

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Q. Why not keep the canal water elevations lower throughout the Hurricane Season?

A.  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.

Q. Where does the water in the District’s canals come from?

A.  Stormwater (rainfall) is where the District receives most of its water supply for the canal system. However, during dry periods with low rainfall, the District may rely on the regional system of canals, Water Conservation Areas and sometimes Lake Okeechobee as a source of supplemental water.

Q. How does drought affect the water level in wells?

A.   The water level in the underground aquifer that supplies a well does not always remain the same. Seasonal variations in rainfall or manual pumping may affect the height of the underground water levels. If a well is pumped at a faster rate than the aquifer is recharged by rainfall or other underground water flows, then the water level in the well can be lowered. This can happen during drought, due to the deficit in rain.

Q. How can I apply for a job at the District?

A.  The District is an equal opportunity employer with a diverse workforce of approximately 90 employees which include Florida registered engineers and surveyors, real estate specialists, geographic information systems specialists, computer programmers and technicians, information specialists, finance personnel, skilled heavy equipment operators and administrative professionals. Employment opportunities are posted as available on our website at www.lwdd.net/contact/job-opportunities.

Q. What is a drought?

A.   While it is relatively easy to define what a hurricane or an earthquake is, defining a drought is more subjective. Droughts do not have the immediate effects of floods, but sustained droughts can cause economic stress throughout an area. The word “drought” has various meanings, depending on a person’s perspective. To a farmer, a drought is a period of moisture deficiency that affects the crops under cultivation. Even two weeks without rainfall can stress many crops during certain periods of the growing cycle. To a meteorologist, a drought is a prolonged period when precipitation is less than normal. To a water manager, a drought is a deficiency in water supply that affects water availability and water quality. To a hydrologist, a drought is an extended period of decreased precipitation and stream flow.

Q. Can two ‘100-year floods’ occur within successive years or even the same year?

A.  The term ‘100-year flood’ is used to simplify the definition of a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Likewise, the term ‘100-year storm’ is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has the same 1-percent chance of occurring. For example, over the course of 1 million years, these events would be expected to occur 10,000 times. Therefore, while not statistically probable, two ‘100-year floods’ could occur within successive years or within the same year.

Q. Who controls the water elevations in Lake Ida?

A.  Lake Ida water levels are coordinated between the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Under this joint operation, LWDD releases water from its E-4 canal which is interconnected to Lake Ida. SFWMD discharges water into the Atlantic Ocean via its C-15 and C-16 canals which are interconnected to Lake Ida and the E-4 canal.

Q. Where can I find more information about the operations of the District?

A. The District offers an 18 minute video on its website entitled, Managing Our Water Resources. This video covers the mission and objectives of the District in providing flood protection and water supply to the residents within its boundary. To watch the video, click here https://youtu.be/eusGV5BhL9U.

 

Q. Why follow the District on Facebook or Twitter?

A.  Subscribing to the District’s Facebook and/or Twitter accounts is a fast and easy way for residents to stay up to date with information that directly concerns them such as emergency alerts and severe weather updates, special events and public service announcements.

Q. Who owns the water within drainage canals?

A.  In Florida, water is not a property right but rather a resource shared in common by landowners. Groundwater and surface waters (canals) are held in trust for the benefit of its citizens. Ownership of the land adjacent to a water body does not provide ownership of the water nor the right to use the water. The right to use water is regulated by the State of Florida through regional water management districts. In our area, the entity responsible is the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). There are several areas under their jurisdiction such as: Consumptive Water Use Permits, Water Shortage Plans, Minimum Flows and Levels and Reservations of Water.

Q. What are the District’s contingency plans for canal maintenance project underway during hurricane season?

A. The District is always mindful of the potential effects of severe storms on project sites. Staff regularly monitors weather conditions for potential impacts. Each storm is unique and the required preparation will be determined depending on the particular weather prediction and status of the project site.

Q. Why are some of the District’s rights-of-way referred to as Chancery Case 407?

A. Chancery Case 407 is a court proceeding under which the landowners within a set boundary area petitioned the court to create a drainage district which would provide flood control and drainage needs. The Lake Worth Drainage District was authorized in 1915 to be formed, assess taxes and establish rights-of-way to accommodate the construction of drainage canals. The canals and rights-of-way were given a dollar value per acre and taken in lieu of taxes paid. Therefore, the Chancery Case 407 rights-of-way are lands held by the District in fee. Chancery Case 407 was later recorded in June 1990, and can be found in Official Record Book 6495, Page 761, Palm Beach County Public Records.

Q. How will SCADA improve the District’s water control operations?

A.  Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems (SCADA) will essentially automate the operation of 10 major water control structures within the District’s service boundary.  The system will automate 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. 

 

Q. What is the importance of the swale or ditch in my front yard?

A. Swales, sometimes referred to as ditches, are an important part of many drainage systems. Located along roadways, swales connect to drainage canals. When it rains, water runoff from yards and roadways collect in the swales and slowly drain to the nearest canal.  Maintenance of swale areas is very important for flood control. Do not pile debris such as lawn waste, garbage or plant vegetation such as trees and bushes within swale areas as these materials can slow or stop the flow of water ultimately resulting in flooding.

Q. Why do I sometimes smell a strong odor after the District has treated a canal with herbicides?

A.  The District strictly adheres to the environmental rules and regulation established and enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for the application of various herbicides associated with aquatic vegetation management. The strong odor you smell is related to the oil emulsion that is mixed with the herbicide. Emulsion herbicides are a thicker consistency, allowing the spray to adhere to treated vegetation even when it rains so that it stays in place long enough to be effective.

Q. How do I vote in the District’s annual Board of Supervisors election?

A. Qualified voters must be at least 18 years of age and hold title to land within the District’s boundary at the time of the election. Qualified voters cast one (1) vote for each acre or portion thereof of property owned within the District’s boundary. Voters cast votes for candidates regardless of election sub-districts. Votes may be cast by ballot or submitted by proxy at the Annual Landowners’ meeting. A proxy is valid for no more than 120 days prior to the election. Proxy forms can be obtained by calling the District office at 561-498-5363, or email info@lwdd.net

Q. What types of canal maintenance does the District perform for flood control purposes?

A. With more than 500 miles of canals and 20 major water control structures the Lake Worth Drainage District is continually conducting maintenance of its waterways. Effective flood control is dependent on well-maintained canals and rights-of-way. District personnel are in the field daily to maintain canals and ensure the system is operating efficiently, including the removal of potential obstructions to water flow and canal right-of-way access. Regular maintenance activities include:

•Mowing of canal banks

•Removal of trees and encroachments from canal rights-of-way

•Application of herbicides for the control of aquatic vegetation

•Mechanical cleaning of canals to remove aquatic vegetation, silt and sandbars

Q. Does the District offer educational speakers?

A. The District is pleased to offer, at no charge, speakers on various water management topics. Requests can be emailed to info@lwdd.net or you can call the main office at 561-498-5363. Scheduling during business hours (M-F, 8am to 5pm) is preferred, however special arrangements can be made for evening and weekend events.

Q. What is the most important part of the District mission?

A. All elements of the District’s mission are important – however, public health and safety are paramount among these at all times. During wet periods, the agency’s efforts to manage stormwater is critical to minimize flooding and damage to property. Similarly in dry times, maintaining groundwater levels adequate to support water withdrawals for human consumption is a major health safety effort.

Q. How do residential associations share in the responsibility for flood control?

A. Since the early-1970’s, development standards for drainage systems have been regulated through design and permitting to ensure flood protection. Residential associations are designed to retain water in swales and onsite detention ponds. Flood control is achieved through an interconnected, three-tiered drainage system. The residential association drainage systems, or tertiary systems, are operated by 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. 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. Click here for more details on the three-tiered system.

Q. Has the District always had a five member Board of Supervisors?

A. Originally the District was created with a three member board. In 1999, Chapter 99-422 of Florida Statues was passed providing for the creation of five single-member sub-districts and the addition of two new board members seats. The statute was enacted to better represent both the rural and urban areas within the boundaries of the District.

Q. How can a community obtain information specific to their drainage system?

The District has four Inspectors on staff. Each Inspector is assigned to a specific geographic location. If your community is located within the service boundary of the District, you can request an onsite meeting with your Inspector. They will answer questions, assist you in locating drainage infrastructure and provide tips on proper maintenance techniques. Requests can be made via email at info@lwdd.net or by phone at 561-498-5363.

Q. How do I submit a Public Records Request?

A. The Lake Worth Drainage District is committed to providing open and prompt access to the agency’s public records. Many commonly requested records can be found on our agency website at www.lwdd.net. Requests may be submitted in person, by e-mail and by phone or fax. Although not required, completing the Public Records Request form will assist District staff in responding and provide contact information in the event there are questions regarding your request. Click here to download the Public Records Request PDF.

Submit your request to:
Lake Worth Drainage District
13081 S. Military Trail
Delray Beach, FL 33484
Phone: 561.819.5566
Fax: 561.495.9694
E-mail: info@lwdd.net

Q. Why is it important to keep the District’s rights-of-way maintained and clear of encumbrances?

Many people in Palm Beach County live along a District canal. In order to enhance their landscapes or properties, residents often plant vegetation or place other encroachments such as swing-sets, fences and patio furniture on the canal rights-of-way. Since the majority of the land in our region is low and flat, proper drainage depends on a sophisticated network of canals to remove excess stormwater after major rainfall events, including tropical storms and hurricanes. Vegetation and other structures along the canal right-of-way may cause blockages, slow the progression of drainage and reduce response time during emergency situations. Keeping the District rights-of-way clear helps to keep you and your family safe during severe storms.

Q: Why doesn’t stormwater in streets and swales drain faster during a heavy rain event?

A: Community drainage systems are designed and permitted to protect house floor pads. During heavy rain events or when more than 5 to 7 inches of rainfall is received in a 24-hour period, standing water in low-lying areas such as yards, swales, streets, driveways and parking lots is normal and expected. Typically, standing water in these low-lying areas recedes within a few hours as the community’s drainage system “catches up” with the rainfall volume.

If the underground water table is already saturated due to previous rain events, stormwater in these low-lying areas may take longer to recede. Drainage can also be hindered by obstructions in the community’s drainage system. It is important for communities to maintain their drainage systems year-round to ensure control structures, swales, drains and outfall pipes have an unobstructed flow.

Q. What is the difference between Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)?

A. Both LWDD and SFWMD provide flood control but differ in size and responsibilities. SFWMD is one of our state’s five regional water management districts and oversees the water resources in the southern half of Florida, covering 16 counties from Orlando to the Florida Keys. LWDD is a local, independent special taxing district encompassing approximately 200 square miles in southeastern Palm Beach County.

Flood control in South Florida is an integrated system consisting of primary canals operated by SFWMD, secondary canals operated and maintained by the LWDD, and tertiary neighborhood drainage systems owned, operated and maintained by residential associations. LWDD and SFWMD work closely together to provide flood control for our residents. When necessary, LWDD discharges excess stormwater into the regional flood control system or primary system operated by the SFWMD.

Q. Where can I find information about water restrictions in my area?

To promote responsible water use and protect our valuable water resources, Palm Beach County observes the South Florida Water Management District’s Year-Round Landscape Irrigation Conservation Measures Rule. Landscape irrigation is restricted to three days a week before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Several municipalities within the Lake Worth Drainage District’s jurisdictional boundaries have adopted their own, more stringent water and irrigation conservation ordinances. Please check with your local municipality for their specific water use rules.

For additional information on current water restrictions, visit the South Florida Water Management District website.

Q. Why doesn’t the District keep its control structures open and increase the drainage rate?

A. The Lake Worth Drainage District’s water management system helps to protect regional water supplies for more than 700,000 residents and several thousand acres of agricultural land. During normal operations, canal water levels are maintained to hold water higher than sea level in order 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 in order to proactively respond to heavy rainfall events. In anticipation of a heavy rainfall event, the District water control structures are opened in order 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.