Hurricane Ian made landfall as a category 4 storm on September 28, 2022, on the west coast of Florida. This powerful storm brought with it winds of 140 mph and torrential rain. It reminds all of us at the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) how important it is for public safety to have a well maintained and operating drainage system.
Effective drainage includes the free flow of water in the canal channel and unrestricted rights-of-way for regular maintenance activities as well as emergency response. Obstruction of drainage whether over the ground or within the canal channel can have devastating effects. During severe storms trees and large shrubs can topple over causing blockages in storm drains, swale areas or flood control structures. Blockages significantly increase the risk of flooding of homes, businesses and may lead to potential life-threatening events. Additionally, encroachments on the rights-of-way can severely hinder LWDD’s use of heavy equipment needed to keep residents safe during and after severe storms.
In response to the increased frequency and intensity of our hurricanes, tropical depressions, and thunderstorms, LWDD addressed flood resiliency and established the Canal Rehabilitation Program. Phase 1 of the program addresses removal of vegetative encroachments within the right-of-way and some structural encroachments that are limiting access to the canal. Phase 1 which was established in 2018 is expected to be completed in 2023.
Phase 2 of the Canal Rehabilitation program will continue to enhance LWDD’s flood control resiliency by addressing unauthorized structural encroachments, such as fences, sheds and patios, located within the canal rights-of-way which restricts maintenance access. These encroachments will be identified and prioritized for removal. Removal of the encroachments is required and is at the expense of the property owner. Dredging and reshaping of some canal channels may be performed during Phase 2 for increased function and operation of the system.
LWDD residents, both adjacent to canals and miles inland, will benefit from enhanced flood control as well as reduced cost in post-storm clean-up. Another benefit to vegetation and encroachment removal is the faster return of residential power following a storm event as an unencumbered right-of-way will facilitate utility restoration efforts.
Hurricane Ian may have passed by Palm Beach County, but it is only time until the next storm takes aim at our coast. LWDD is committed to providing the best possible flood control for our residents today and in the future.