Control Structure general

LWDD’s Automated Flood Control

Water control structures act like dams, allowing stormwater to be released or held back depending on weather conditions. The technology used to operate the Lake Worth Drainage District’s (LWDD) 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 back water for conservation and water supply demands.

This response to changes in the canal system happens automatically and is monitored remotely by staff using mobile devices. However, in anticipation of severe weather, staff can override the automated SCADA system and make manual adjustments as needed. The remote monitoring and operating functions of SCADA eliminate the need for LWDD staff to venture out during dangerous weather conditions to operate control structures, as well as significantly reduce response time.

Automation for more enhanced flood control is just one of the many ways LWDD provides for your safety.

Roadway storm drain blocked by fallen leaves

Leaves Can Cause Flooding

See how a few leaves caused local street flooding in one South Florida neighborhood. Click the link to watch this incredible video

man picking up trash from storm drain

Adopt A Storm Drain

Debris blocking storm drains can be a local flooding hazard. Even an average afternoon rainstorm can cause local street flooding if the water has nowhere to go. Just a small amount of debris and trash on top of a drain grate can reduce drainage capacity. By keeping the storm drain clear of debris, it can function as designed allowing storm water to flow away from your home and discharge into flood control canals.

Some helpful tools for cleaning a storm drain include: a broom, a rake, a trash grabber, gloves, an orange cone and/or safety vest, a shovel or dustpan and a pail or yard waste bag. Never remove the grate or otherwise attempt to clean inside the catch basin. Clean only the surface of the storm drains grate and the area around it. If the drain appears to be plugged or have any problems, contact your community board/property manager or local municipality to address the issue.

Adopting a storm drain only takes a small amount of time. Let friends and neighbors know about your commitment and invite them to adopt a storm drain too.

Your Question Answered

Q: What is the difference between the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)? Click here to find the answer.

A: Both the LWDD and the 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.

graphic that shows the flow of water

Your Question Answered

How does stormwater drain from my neighborhood?

When it rains, stormwater should flow from rooftops, driveways, and streets into a retention pond or storm drain. Then, if needed for flood control, flow out through the pond’s discharge control structure into a LWDD canal. Most of the time, this drainage occurs unnoticed by the average individual. However, during a severe storm, flooding in streets, sidewalks, and driveways can occur. This temporary flooding may cause concern, but it is important to note these low-lying areas are designed as secondary detention areas to protect buildings and homes from flooding.

Within LWDD’s boundary, stormwater drainage is a shared responsibility:

  • Neighborhood drainage systems operated by property owners or residential associations
  • Secondary drainage systems operated by LWDD or local government
  • Primary regional system operated by the South Florida Water Management District

Water managers in charge of primary and secondary systems are continuously monitoring the weather and canal levels to proactively respond to changes in canal elevations. In anticipation of a heavy rainfall event, water managers will make operational adjustments to maintain appropriate water elevations for flood control. Throughout the year, routine canal maintenance and inspections of control structures, pumps, and other infrastructure are performed to ensure the overall functionality of the water management system.

Property owners and residential associations have a similar role regarding their neighborhood drainage system. They must maintain their drainage infrastructure to ensure that inlets, storm drains, underground pipes, and emergency discharge control structures are clear of potential blockages and working as designed. Property owners and associations should conduct an annual inspection of the drainage infrastructure, and repairs should be made before the onset of storm season.