SFWMD Mobilizes Debris Removal Crews, Aerial Inspections in Response to Hurricane Irma

District recovery focusing on clearing debris from canals and inspecting flood control and Everglades restoration infrastructure

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) took to the air and land today, Sept. 12, as part of recovery efforts and to continue the assessment of impacts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

As winds from Hurricane Irma subsided in South Florida, the District’s rapid impact assessment and aerial reconnaissance teams started work Monday inspecting the areas of the regional flood control system. Those areas most affected by the storm include the Big Cypress Basin (BCB) in Collier County, Miami-Dade County and the populated areas south of Lake Okeechobee.

Today, aerial reconnaissance flights and ground crews also deployed to inspect all six Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) and the A-1 FlowEqualization Basin (FEB) in Palm Beach and Hendry counties. Crews are working to determine if Irma’s high winds uprooted aquatic vegetation that naturally absorbs phosphorus from stormwater in the treatment areas or caused vegetation to block structures associated with the STAs and FEB. These facilities are crucial components of the District’s efforts in restoring and maintaining Everglades water quality.

In the heavily-impacted regions of the flood control system, such as the BCB, District assessment crews spent Tuesday determining where trees and other debris have accumulated as they could block the drainage of flood waters. SFWMD field station staff are removing debris where possible and the District is staging contractors in the BCB and other areas to remove the debris.

The District works year-round to routinely clear trash and other debris from canals and remove trees and other items that encroach on the District’s right-of-ways, such as the ongoing efforts along the C-100A canal in Miami-Dade County. This routine maintenance is done in anticipation of storms such as Hurricane Irma to minimize the amount of debris and vegetation that can block the canal and impede critical drainage of flood water away from neighborhoods after storms.

To move stormwater runoff as quickly and safely as possible, water managers are continuing to release water to tide through coastal outlet structures and pump stations around the clock.

WATCH: Reconnaissance Flight Over the Lower East Coast

For more updates on SFWMD’s Hurricane Irma response: