The Lake Worth Drainage District canals exist for purpose of stormwater management. Through its network of drainage canals, the District provides flood control making the land suitable for residents, businesses and agriculture. Effective flood control is dependent on well-maintained canals and rights-of-way. But, what is meant by well-maintained? A canal or right-of-way that some property owners may consider an eye-sore is often considered well-maintained for effective flood control operations by the District.
Some of the necessary components for effective flood control include the free flow of water in the canal channel to diverted excess stormwater from properties and the 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 the components of effective flood control are achieved.
There are several types of aquatic plants found within the canals. When aquatic vegetation has the potential to block the flow of water within the canal channel or at flood control structures District crews control the growth with the application of herbicides or mechanical removal. Although not esthetically pleasing to some property owners, alga in most instances, is not a threat to flood control in District canals. This is good news since the herbicide used to control alga can be environmental harmful. Rights-of-way or canal banks are mowed approximately 4-times a year. Tractor-mowers maintain the top of the canal bank and arm-mowers maintain the side slope of the canals. Grasses and other vegetation can grow several inches in height before the mowing crew returns to an area.
Flood control and the maintenance it requires comes at a cost. All property owners, whether adjacent to a District canal or miles away, are assessed at the same tax rate. The assessed rate is established by the District’s Board of Supervisors. Funds are budgeted to provide for the necessary maintenance needed for flood control at an affordable cost to taxpays. In 2018, the non-ad valorem assessment rate is $48 for a parcel equal to or less than an acre in size.
Although most property lines do not extend up to the water’s edge, some property owners adjacent to a District’s right-of-way may choose to maintain the grass to a higher degree. However, this would be at their cost and no encroachments would be allowed such as trees, shrubs or other vegetation. One to the District’s critical missions is to provide affordable and effective flood control all taxpayers within its boundary.