Flooding and stormwater systems
Tips to help you prepare for the storm season
Before Florida was developed, rain was stored in wetlands (also known as swamps or marshes). Wetlands control flooding by slowing down storm surges and absorbing rainwater before it reaches water bodies. Neighborhood stormwater systems were established by Florida law to mimic the natural role of wetlands to help control flooding.
Following are a few general guidelines for keeping a stormwater system functioning properly.
- Clear or clean the inflow/outflow structures.
- Keep grass clippings and other debris out of stormwater drainage systems to prevent clogging.
- Remove nuisance and excess vegetation from stormwater ponds.
- Repair eroded slopes.
- Remove trash and yard wastes from gutters and around storm drains.
- Report clogged culverts or slow-moving water in ditches to your local government.
- Do not fill stormwater ponds, swales or retention systems with dirt or other debris, as this will reduce the size of the stormwater pond. Any reduction in treatment volume will interfere with the pond’s ability to hold stormwater runoff.
Permits for private stormwater systems are issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts. Local governments have the primary role of maintaining stormwater systems to ensure that ditches and canals are adequate, clean and functioning properly. After developers complete construction of permitted systems in residential areas, the permit and the legal responsibility for maintaining these systems are typically passed on to a homeowners association. It is then the homeowners association’s responsibility for upkeep and maintenance.
Other things to know
- Report flooding to your local government.
- Obtain information about the National Flood Insurance Program from your insurance agent. Homeowners’ policies rarely cover flood damage.
- Retrofit residences and businesses in flood-prone areas to minimize future flood damage. Retrofitting can include making a building water-tight, elevating the building or constructing barriers.