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Stormwater 101

Older stormwater pond

Throughout Florida we are now experiencing flooding from Tropical Storm Debby.  We are not alone as flooding from rainfall and snow melts effects communities all over the world.  In coastal areas the problem is exacerbated by the storm surge of the Gulf and bays.  Why does one pond flood over the banks and another one across the street does not?  The stormwater design criteria has changed/improved over the years; not all ponds have adequate outfalls e.g. the pipe that drains the area to the bay, creek, river.   There is a large volume of stormwater flowing to the same place.  The problem is made worse as the tide rises in the Gulf and the bays.  The rivers that flow into the tidal waters are tidally influenced miles up stream of the connection to the gulf/bay.  The higher than normal tides back up/surge in the rivers/creeks causing the water.  Consequently the creeks and ditches upstream become swollen/full due to the tidal wedge. The back up of water is the reverse domino effect.

Flooding is not unique to coastal areas.  Stormwater ponds function to hold the runoff from an area and “meter” the discharge so that all the stormwater in a region/basin does not enter the receiving water body at the same time.   The land that drains to the same water body as your property/area might include areas without any stormwater storage.  The stormwater from these areas drains to the creek/river/bay faster than areas with ponds.  It is similar to 100 people trying to get into a train car designed for 50.   The people who are faster will get in first.

Remember water flows downhill and the higher the water is the faster the flow.  This is why we have tanks on our toilets; to raise the water up higher than the bowl.  The higher the water is above the bowl, the faster it will flow.  There will be water coming into the system upstream of where you live and it will be flowing faster than the water from your stormwater system and that too causes the stormwater downstream to be slowed down.  Also the worst flooding can occur two or three days after the rains have subsided as water seeps out of the saturated soils to the ponds/ditches from the areas upstream of your location.

All we can do is be patient.   There is always going to be a storm or a series of storms that will exceed the capacity of a stormwater drainage system.  If you believe the stormwater system in your community is not functioning correctly, let our team review the conditions and assist you.

New stormwater design