Monday, December 17, 2018

Everybody loves shade trees. And everybody loves being near the water.

The 2018 Hurricane Season is over. But the work never ends at the Lake Worth Drainage District. This is a very large district in Palm Beach County. However, only a small part of the City of Lake Worth Beach lies with the district, mostly west of I-95.

So one day you’re sitting home and you hear a loud noise in the backyard. . .

“Gee Wiz, Mabel! What happened to our tree in the backyard? It’s gone. Call CBS12!”

Below are excerpts from an excellent news article in the Sun Sentinel by reporter Marci Shatzman headlined, “Some stunned to see tree-free canal banks as they’re cleared for storm season”.

This news from Shatzman is about the Lake Worth Drainage District (learn more about that water district below) and a thing called an “easement”. If you own, live in property, or own a business along a canal or waterway and think you have control over that property all the way to the water line, well, think again. You better check first to see who controls that canal. Because that tree, or shed, or boat dock you enjoy so much may disappear some day and there is little or nothing you can do to stop it.

Without further ado, the news in the Sun Sentinel:

Workers are removing trees, foliage and other items lining South Florida’s canal banks — concerned a hurricane could knock them into the water and pose a flood hazard.
     Hurricane season began June 1. And the Lake Worth Drainage District, which manages 500 miles of canals across Palm Beach County, is removing trees and woods or anything else that could topple into waterways. [emphasis added] There are 29 projects underway in several cities from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach to clear canal banks.

and. . .

     In 2015, the Lake Worth Drainage District completed an inventory of its canals and identified about 180 miles of district-owned land that was “encumbered with nuisance vegetation and other encroachments,” said Rosemary Rayman, in charge of the district’s public information and outreach.
     The district has cleared about 55 miles of canals so far, removing anything encroaching on district-owned land. Cities “could be impacted if a nearby drainage canal is blocked by a fallen tree or debris,” Rayman said.

“Mabel, our shed is gone too! Get the mayor on the phone, quick!”

Calling a public official to complain about the Lake Worth Drainage District may make you feel better but clearing the easements along canals to make certain your city, town, village or unincorporated area in Palm Beach County does not flood in Hurricane Season (or a major storm event) is the top priority. Just one tree falling across a canal, restricting the flow of water has the potential to flood an entire region in this County.

Just like roads and highways must remain clear during major storm events, the same is true for canals. The LWDD needs access to canals and waterways at all times. In emergencies there is little time for a bucket truck, chipper, and a crew with chainsaws to make certain the water flows out to tide as it should.

Now for residents of coastal Central Palm Beach County, more information that may interest you. For example, ever heard of the Blueway Trail?

First, briefly, how water flows out to tide. . .

Find out how the LWDD system of canals is all connected to lakes (e.g., Lake Osborne), the C-51 Canal (between the cities of Lake Worth and West Palm Beach), and the water that then flows into the Intracoastal (Lake Worth Lagoon) and how these waterway networks all connect with an exciting project that is 3–4 years off called the Blueway Trail.

To “Follow” the LWDD on Twitter use this link.
Some cities in Central PBC are entirely within the
district, but not the entire City of Lake Worth:

To view the LWDD “Conveyances Web Mapuse this link: see the district boundaries and what is controlled by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) as well.

Contrary to what many believe, there is a small area of the City of Lake Worth within the LWDD — west of I-95 along the E-4 (Keller) Canal — and one of those areas is the City’s Park of Commerce. Below you’ll see how this all relates to future exciting projects to enhance tourism and ecotourism and attract more businesses to this region (see video below).

Further north in the City (see image below) you can see where the E-4 Canal meets the C-51 Canal, a waterway which is controlled by SFWMD. The E-4 Canal connects to Lake Osborne, goes north and intersects with the C-51. However, this area is not within the LWDD.

The thin blue line is the E-4 Canal; the thick blue line is the eastern LWDD boundary. Note these in relation to Dixie Hwy. (U.S. 1) and Federal Hwy. further east.

Water from canals such as the E-4 flows to the C-51 and then into the Intracoastal past the S-155 “Spillway” structure.

Now back to the LWDD, use this link for their website, an excerpt:

South Florida is fortunate to receive over 50 inches of rainfall a year on average. Most of that amount is concentrated during the 6-month rainy season (May–October). While much of the runoff from these rains is discharged to the ocean to avoid flooding, a significant amount soaks into the ground and recharges the freshwater aquifers that supply our drinking water wellfields, lakes and wetlands.

and. . .

Without adequate drainage, human health and safety would be jeopardized and extensive property damage could occur. Similarly, if regional groundwater levels were not properly maintained, wellfields would be unable to deliver water to homes and businesses and the underground inland migration of salt water from the ocean could permanently contaminate the drinking water supply rendering it unsafe for potable uses.

Now you get a better idea how the canal systems all work together in relation to the “Inland Chain of Lakes” and the Intracoastal and the future Blueway Trail “Creating Access for All”:

The vision for the Chain of Lakes Blueway Trail experience is to finally link Palm Beach County waterways by providing two-way access for small boats and non-motorized watercraft between the Chain of Lakes, Lake Worth Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway, which is just a few hundred yards away. In Palm Beach County, 80 percent of registered small boats meet this criteria – and that doesn’t include the thousands of kayakers, paddleboarders, canoers and others who use the local waterways every year.