Drainage System Maintenance
A plugged drain or culvert might back up flood waters onto your property. A community can lose a portion of its drainage system conveyance or stormwater storage capacity due to illegal dumping, debris accumulation, soil erosion, and sedimentation as well as overgrowth of vegetation. When this happens, flooding occurs more frequently and reaches higher elevations, subjecting properties otherwise protected to an unnecessary risk of damage.
Extensive maintenance is necessary to ensure flood preparedness. Maintenance activities most commonly include ongoing monitoring, debris, and sediment removal, and the correction of problem sites and damaged systems by field crews. The City of Boynton Beach has ongoing programs for structural and permanent changes to channels or basins (e.g. enlargement of openings, installation of grates to catch debris, installation of hard bank protection, construction of new retention basins, etc.) to reduce flooding and maintenance problems. You can practice good drainage maintenance by keeping grass clippings and other debris out of stormwater drainage systems and drainage canals to prevent clogging and loss of stormwater storage and conveyance capacity.
Did you know that it is illegal to throw anything into the lakes, canals, or other water of the City? Do you know that nothing but stormwater is allowed to go into the storm drains located in streets, right-of-ways, and parking lots? Dumping of materials into our waters or drains pollutes those waters, clogs our storm drains and leads to increased flooding in our neighborhoods. Please report dumping violations and observed canal obstructions to the City of Boynton Beach Utilities Department at 561-742-6400 or utilize the City's mobile app. Quite often, maintenance actions are prompted by citizen complaints and reports. The vigilance of citizens is a critical element in identifying potential drainage problems.
Palm Beach County's drainage systems consist of a combination of natural drainage ways and channels, engineered channels, storm sewers and ditches, and detention/retention basins contiguous to drainage systems.
Responsibility for inspection and maintenance of drainage systems falls to a variety of organizations depending on the type of system involved:
- South Florida Management District and the various water control districts provide oversight for the routine inspection of the drainage systems under their purview and for debris clearance and other maintenance activities.
- Storm drain maintenance falls within the purview of the County's Road and Bridge Division, municipal Public Works Departments, and the State Department of Transportation (FDOT).
- Inspection, clearance, and maintenance of privately owned systems are the responsibilities of property owners and associations.
In rare instances, environmental regulations may prohibit removing natural debris and new growth from some drainage ways.
The Water Management Challenge
Rainfall has been critical to South Florida's history, feeding its natural wetlands and refreshing surface-water and groundwater reservoirs. Its water management issues differ from those of most other areas in the country. Where most areas are concerned with protecting "scarce" water resources, South Florida's challenge is managing an overabundance of surface water. In order to drain and manage the excess water, hundreds of miles of canals, dikes, and levees have been built. Water management policies have created agricultural, tourism, and real estate industries whose success has fueled the state's population growth and taxed the seemingly abundant water supply. Now choices must be made between further population growth, environmental protection, and an adequate, safe water supply.
The area's high hydrologic variation, low physical relief, and limited storage and conveyance capacities, make water management challenging. A delicate balance must be struck, dealing with extremes: flooding versus drought and open land versus crowded urban areas. Actions range from enforcing water restrictions during dry periods to precautionary or emergency flood management during wet periods and storm events.
With annual rainfall averaging over 60 inches (but varying widely), and more than 50% occurring in 4 months (June to September)… with the rainy season necessitating the movement of water away from populated areas for flood control and the storage of excess water necessary to meet population needs and demands during dry periods… water management is a complex challenge.
Flood control in Palm Beach County is dependent on a complex, integrated system of canals, waterways, and flood control devices operated by the South Florida Water Management District, 20 drainage districts, and thousands of privately owned canals, retention/detention lakes, and ponds.
The county's drainage system is designed to handle excess surface water in three stages. The "neighborhood or tertiary drainage systems" (made up of community lakes, ponds, street, and yard drainage grates or culverts, ditches, and canals) flow into the "local or secondary drainage system" (made up of canals, structures, pumping stations, and storage areas) and then into the "primary flood control system" (consisting of South Florida Water Management District canals and natural waterways and rivers), ultimately reaching the Atlantic Ocean.