Letters to the Editor

Carolinas’ flooding a reminder of why water management is needed

I have been watching media accounts of the devastation and record flooding in the Carolinas with a heavy heart. While I was born and raised in South Florida and am proud to serve as a state representative, I graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina and lived in eastern North Carolina. I have an affection for the Carolinas.

While no system could withstand the record rainfall seen with Hurricane Florence without some negative impacts, I am thankful that we have the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) working hard to protect us from flooding.

The SFWMD was established by the Florida Legislature in 1949 in response to unprecedented flooding from several hurricanes. The agency protects 8.1 million residents and 18,000 square miles in 16 counties, utilizing a regional flood control system of about 2,100 miles of canals and 2,000 miles of levees and berms. The SFWMD also maintains the canals.

This year, the District completed 16 hazardous tree or debris removal projects along 13 canals or levees to make sure canals aren’t blocked, and also removed more than 16,000 cubic yards of debris from its entire system. These actions may seem mundane, but they make the difference when a storm hits.

This wet season, SFWMD has worked to lower water levels in the Water Conservation Areas and Lake Okeechobee caused by record rainfall in May and Tropical Storm Gordon in August.

What we have seen in the wake of Florence should remind everyone of why we need a flood control district and the real cost, in terms of lives lost and destroyed, that we could all lose if we didn’t have SFWMD working for us.

Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole,