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SFWMD Managing Every Drop Poster Visit the SFWMD to learn about our stormwater management system.


Stormwater Management Tools

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While flooding is a natural phenomenon, our challenge as a community is to manage our water resources so that we prevent unnecessary flooding and mitigate damage from naturally occurring, unpreventable floods. Fort Lauderdale participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Rating System (CRS) where our residents earn a premium discount on federal flood insurance in exchange for adopting various flood mitigation strategies. A combination of structural and non-structural mitigation strategies, as well as collaboration between federal, state and local stakeholders is necessary to reduce flood risk and decrease its effect. You can also play a role in preventing floods, especially by keeping storm drains clear and notifying us of blockages.

We have a four-pronged approach to floodplain management and flood mitigation:

  1. Collaboration with regional and federal agencies;
  2. Coordinated planning for and monitoring of our flood control system performance;
  3. Diligent maintenance of stormwater and drainage systems; and,
  4. Innovation, either through our own resources or by taking advantage of available grants.


Because water management does not start and stop along municipal boundaries, we partner with a variety of government entities to plan and take action cooperatively. In 2004, the City adopted the Broward County Location Mitigation Strategy (LMS). We were involved in the initial preparation of the plan and continue to sit on the Local Mitigation Strategy Working Group and Planning Committee to monitor progress, make updates, and revise it. The LMS serves as the Floodplain Management Plan for the City of Fort Lauderdale for the purpose of the CRS, through which our neighbors are eligible for discounts off of their flood insurance premiums. In 2012, it was reviewed and updated to become the “Enhanced Local Mitigation Strategy” (ELMS). The ELMS was submitted to the Florida Department of Emergency Management, who approved it, then forwarded it to FEMA for final approval. After the ELMS was approved by FEMA, the CRS workgroup brought it to Commission for adoption. With the adoption of the ELMS, the City received additional points for our Floodplain Management Plan. We publish ELMS progress reports approximately once per year.



The City maintains a Stormwater Master Plan. The Stormwater Master Plan is intended to be a guide for improving the City’s storm drainage system performance and meeting regulatory compliance through the year 2025. The Master Plan provides a preliminary schedule of prioritized capital improvements necessary to allow the City’s storm water systems to meet increasing performance and regulatory demands, and modernize existing systems, while maintaining the high level of service expected in a modern urban environment. The plan addresses, but is not limited to, the following issues:
  1. Identify, catalog and categorize existing citywide storm drainage problems.
  2. Develop planning level improvement recommendations and cost estimates for existing storm drainage problems. Address funding methods for the improvements based on existing or proposed funding resources.
  3. Review current status of the City’s stormwater‐related organization, funding mechanisms, policies and procedures. Review current ordinances, revenues, and expenditures for capital improvements (including design, project management, and construction of improvements), maintenance and operations. Make recommendations on staffing levels and changes to the existing organization, ordinances, project delivery strategies (including funding mechanisms, policies and procedures), maintenance and operations.
Water Control Structures MapReview existing and proposed stormwater regulatory issues that may affect the City’s stormwater program, especially as it relates to the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (MS4, NPDES) Permit. Make recommendations, including funding resources to address the regulatory requirements.


Before flooding ever occurs, we are hard at work. South Florida has a three-tiered system of flood control, and the City of Fort Lauderdale Public Works is an important part of that system.
  • The primary drainage system is operated by the South Florida Water Management District through a system of pump stations and spillways. The primary outlets for these systems are rivers and other waterways.
  • The secondary system is operated by local drainage districts or the county, and is a network of pump stations, canals, and storage areas which discharge into the primary flood control system.
  • The tertiary drainage system, or the neighborhood drainage system, is the system the City is responsible for operating and maintaining. We maintain a system of natural and man-made drainage features that manage local water flow and stormwater runoff. These features include rivers, canals, storm drains, catch basins, pump stations and swales. The local canals and rivers actually help us to prevent flooding, as well as recharge the well fields that supply the City’s drinking water. After it rains, the surface water slowly drains into grates, swales, ditches, ponds, lakes, and canals. Sometimes these systems will be connected to the secondary drainage system via culverts or underground pipes.

The City’s Public Works Department is routinely engaged in maintenance and improvement of neighborhood drainage systems, such as the installation of new underground piping, drainage outfalls, street gutters, and all things related. Some are designed to affect an entire neighborhood, and others are focused on smaller at-risk areas or to solve specific recurring flooding challenges. For example, the Water and Wastewater Division Right‐of Way Maintenance has two swale crews that re‐grade and sod utility right‐of‐ways throughout the City in accordance with the City of Fort Lauderdale ordinances 18‐12, 26‐145, 47‐20‐13, and 47‐21‐14. Since 1999, we have been proactively installing swales at homeowner’s addresses at no cost to the homeowners. The installations not only enhance stormwater drainage and recharge of the surficial aquifer, they also create green space. To date, over 3000 swales were created or evaluated.


To enhance and improve our existing system, we are implementing the following tools and strategies.

Flood Control Mechanism  How It Works  Where We’re Using It 

Tidal Control Valves

Blocks the seawater that comes up through the storm drains during rising tides.  

Riviera Isle, Hendricks Isle, and Victoria Park

Pumping Stations

Moves rapidly accumulating water into adjacent waterways. Especially effective in low-lying areas.

The City currently has four pumping stations: two on the North side of the New River, one by Sunset Lake, and one on Coconut Isle.

Pervious Pavers and PaveDrain 

Crushed rock is placed underneath pavers to allow water to seep into the ground rather than puddle on the surface. The water is naturally filtered and cleansed as it makes its way to the aquifer. 

Sidewalks, pathways and parking areas around the City 

Exfiltration Trenches

Perforated pipes placed in rock-filled trenches to disperse water instead of pushing it through pipes and into waterways that may already be overflowing. The water which seeps through the pipe’s holes fills the voids between rocks underground and gradually drains that water into the subsoil where it percolates through ground to fill our aquifer. 

Throughout the City under both public right of way and private properties. As of early 2014, we have 16 miles of exfiltration trenches in the City. 

Stormwater Preserves

Open land is set aside as park and wildlife habitat, and serves as a natural collector for stormwater and overflowing waterways. 

River Oaks


Sloped areas, adjacent to streets, which are heavily landscaped with native vegetation, and are built with drains under the surface to collect and divert water. Filters out contaminants as water passes through vegetated soils and drains, and seeps into the ground. 

Flagler Greenway (in the planning stage) will be the City’s first true public bioswale. Private examples can be seen, for example, at PNC Bank at Davie Boulevard and Andrews Avenue. 

Seawall repairs and upgrades 

Man-made, usually, concrete structures, built to protect against storm surge and high tides. Older sea walls now require repair and upgrade. 

Fort Lauderdale has more than one million feet of sea walls. 

Recharge Drainage Wells 

Collects water from the stormwater collection system and pipes it directly into the aquifer. 

Throughout the City under both public and private properties, and mostly for newer construction. Most City-owned wells are in Victoria Park. 



 Beyond these, the most effective approaches to mitigate risk are to enforce land use and zoning codes, and also to educate property owners about their role in maintaining our systems.


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