Graphic of a residential septic system

Flooding And Septic Systems

During floods or heavy rains, the soil around the septic tank and in the drain field becomes saturated, or water-logged, and the effluent from the septic tank cannot properly drain through the soil. Special care needs to be taken with your septic system during and after a flood or heavy rain.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers these guidelines:

  • Relieve pressure on the septic system by using it less or preferably not at all until floodwaters recede and the soil has drained. For your septic system to work properly, water needs to drain freely in the drain field. Under flooded conditions, water cannot drain properly and can back up into your system. Remember that in most homes all water sent down the pipes goes into the septic system. This includes shower drains and washing machines.
  • Avoid digging around the septic tank and drain field while the soil is waterlogged. Don’t drive heavy vehicles or equipment over the drain field. By using heavy equipment or working under water-logged conditions, you can compact the soil in your drain field, and water won’t be able to drain properly.
  • Don’t open or pump out the septic tank if the soil is still saturated. Silt and mud can get into the tank if it is opened and can end up in the drain field, reducing its drainage capability. Pumping under these conditions can cause a tank to pop out of the ground.
  • How can you tell if your system is damaged? Signs include soil settling, wastewater starts backing up into household drains, the soil in the drain field remains soggy and never fully drains, a foul odor persists around the tank and drain field. If you suspect your system has been damaged, have the tank inspected and serviced by a professional.
  • Keep rainwater drainage systems away from the septic drain field. As a preventive measure, make sure that water from roof gutters doesn’t drain into your septic drain field. This adds an additional source of water that the drain field must process.
  • If your household relies on private well water for home consumption and your property has flooded, it is important to have your well water tested for bacteria (total coliform and E. coli) through your county health department or a private certified lab.

By taking special care with your septic system after flooding, you can contribute to the health of your household, community and environment.

Excerpt from University of Florida IFAS, Savanna Barry, Regional Specialized Extension Agent Cedar Key FL, Aug. 2023,

Rosie Byrd sitting at her desk at work

New Face for Public Outreach

Rosie Byrd joined Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) in August 2023 as a Public Information Specialist and serves as the liaison between the public and LWDD. In her new role, Rosie will communicate and engage the public and stakeholders on LWDD’s mission, responsibilities, and future goals; provide information on canal maintenance activities and water management issues; and encourage positive action regarding flood control responsibilities and hazard mitigation.

Residents can expect to find Rosie attending community and civic group meetings such as the Alliance of Delray and COBWRA. Additionally, Rosie will be monitoring and creating content for LWDD’s social media sites.  Having spent most of her career at the South Florida Water Management District in a variety of roles, Rosie has a well-rounded understanding of stormwater management issues of importance to the property managers and community board members within the LWDD boundary.

Rosie’s greatest joy is spending time with her family and attending her grandkids’ school and sport activities. LWDD is excited to have Rosie as a member of our team and is confident that our residents will enjoy working with her. You can contact Rosie Byrd at or 561-819-5474.

Small boy playing near a water body

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

“It was just a quiet little slip right into the water, no splash, no screaming, no yelling, no fight. She didn’t really make a ripple because the water masked her movement. You should be able to see them, but you don’t. They just quietly go underwater. This is how kids drown with a whole bunch of people around,” stated Olaudah Parker, father of a 3-year-old who suffered a non-fatal drowning in Naples, Florida.

Children can drown sometimes in the presence of many distracted adults, like backyard poolside parties. However, more than half of fatal drownings occur when children sneak outside and reach a pool alone. But drownings can also occur in nearby canals, stormwater ponds, small koi ponds and fountains.  In a state where water is everywhere, taking steps to safeguard children from drowning is critical. Constant, undistracted adult supervision, fencing/barriers, Coast Guard-approved life jackets, and technology tracking devices are good safety strategies. But safety devices and barriers only work if the environment contains them, caregivers remember to engage them, and children don’t disable or defeat them. In real life, the only water safety resource that can travel with children everywhere they go is the water safety training inside their own heads.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends swimming lessons for children as early as 1 to 4 years of age as well as all caregiver adults who have not learned to swim.  Many local fire departments offer free Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation-CPR training, a vital technique needed in the event of drowning. Preventing tragedy and unthinkable heartbreak requires all caregivers to be informed and layers of protection to be installed and used. Learn more at the Drowning Prevention Coalition’s website at

two people facing one another wearing yellow rain boots

Your Question Answered

What is the difference between the Lake Worth Drainage District and the South Florida Water Management District?

Both the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) and the South Florida Water Management District (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.

C. Stanley Weaver Canal sign at bank of canal

Canal Maintenance-What To Expect

The Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) stormwater management system consists of canal channels, rights-of-way on each side of the canal and controls structures and pumps. Consisting of a network of more than 500 miles of canals, over 1,000 miles of rights-of-way and 20 major control structures, LWDD can provide effective flood control and water supply for residents, businesses, and agriculture.

Effective stormwater management is dependent on well-maintained canals and rights-of-way. But what defines “well-maintained”? A canal or right-of-way that some property owners may consider in need of maintenance is often considered well-maintained by LWDD.

Some of the necessary components for effective flood control include the free flow of water in the canal channel to divert excess stormwater from properties, and unencumbered canal rights-of-way to provide access for regular maintenance and emergency response. Through the process of aquatic vegetation removal and canal bank mowing, effective flood control maintenance is achieved.

There are numerous species of aquatic plants found within the District’s canal system. Some aquatic vegetation has the potential to slow the flow of water within the canal channel or large flood control structures. This vegetation growth is controlled with the application of herbicides and/or mechanical removal.

Canal rights-of-way and banks are mowed approximately 3-4 times a year. Flat-mowers mow the rights-of-way, and arm-mowers maintain the side slopes of the canals. This mowing schedule prevents the growth of woody vegetation that may grow to impact access and threaten flood control. Tall grass does not prevent access to canals and control structures or threaten flood control operations. Frequent mowing is not required for flood control and residents should note that grasses and other vegetation can grow several inches in height before mowing crews return to an area.

Although most property lines do not extend to the water’s edge, some property owners adjacent to the right-of-way may choose to maintain the grass to a higher degree through irrigation and more frequent mowing. However, this higher degree of maintenance is at the resident’s cost and the planting of trees and shrubs are not allowed within the LWDD rights-of-way.

Flood control and the maintenance it requires comes at a cost. All property owners within LWDD’s boundary, whether adjacent to a canal or miles away, are assessed at the same tax rate. In 2023 the assessed rate is $49.50 for a parcel equal to or less than an acre in size. By maintaining our canals and rights-of-way to flood control standards, LWDD can achieve its mission of effective flood control at an affordable cost for all residents.