Palm Beach County's drainage systems consist of a combination of natural drainageways and channels, engineered channels, storm sewers and ditches, and detention/retention basins contiguous to drainage systems. These systems can easily lose their carrying capacity with debris accumulation, sedimentation buildup and/or vegetation growth...becoming ineffective for flood prevention. Other, more extensive maintenance, is sometimes necessary to ensure flood preparedness.
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 & Bridge Division, municipal public works departments and the State Department of Transportation.
- Inspection, clearance, and maintenance of privately owned systems are the responsibility of property owners and associations.
In rare instances, environmental regulations may prohibit removing natural debris and new growth from drainage ways.
Maintenance activities, most commonly, include ongoing monitoring, debris and sediment removal, and the correction of problem sites and damaged systems by field crews. Quite often, maintenance actions are prompted by citizen complaints and reports. Given the shear size of the County, the vigilance of citizens is a critical element in identifying potential drainage problems. The County 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. Coastal communities commonly undertake a variety of maintenance measures including dune and mangrove preservation, bluff stabilization, and beach nourishment to protect coastal buildings, property, and water bodies from flooding and erosion.
The county and municipalities work continuously to improve and maintain their stormwater management systems. Some of these projects are self-funded and some depend on grant support. Drainage improvement projects are among the most prevalent flood mitigation strategies reflected on the County's Local Mitigation Strategy prioritized project list.