Of the 34 million acres or so that make up the State of Florida, water comprises a substantial portion of it. At the top of the water management pyramid sits the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. Under the Department, five Water Management Districts manage a system of nine primary canals and their basins or “C” canals, which are identified by the letter “C” followed by a number.
In the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), one of the more recognizable primary canals in Broward County is the C-11 canal or the Griffin Road or South New River Canal. The four other water management districts in Florida are the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwanee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, and the Southwestern Florida Water Management District.
The Florida legislature enacted legislation in 1949 creating the Central & Southern Florida Flood Control District (C & SF FCD) when a massive 1947 hurricane along with several other tropical events drenched south Florida with ten inches of rain within a short period of time. What would become the city of Planation and the Town of Davie as well as the rest of western Broward County were completely under water, cut off from Fort Lauderdale. Flood waters drenched even the streets of Fort Lauderdale, flooding downtown offices and retail shops. The Army Corps of Engineers launched a twenty-year construction program to prevent future flooding. The legislature replaced the C & SF FCD with the SFWMD when Congress passed the Water Resources Act in 1972.
In Broward County, today, primary canals and their basins, along with an intricate system of secondary, and even tertiary canals comprising, in the aggregate, 266 miles of waterways within the SFWMD, managing water flows which eventually outpour to estuarine areas like the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, with one exception. That one exception is the western section of the C-11 primary canal, which back-pumps water for storage into Water Conservation Areas (WCAs), as shown on the map.
Major secondary canals include the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) which covers south Palm Beach County. Incorporated in 1905, the LWDD is one of the oldest drainage districts in Florida. This year, the LWDD celebrates its 100th birthday since the swearing-in of its first commissioners; I’ll be there as the keynote speaker on June 17th. In the early 1900’s, the election of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency along with the election of Jacksonville, Florida tugboat captain Napoleon Bonaparte Broward to the gubernatorial post led to a renaissance in the building of canals throughout the state, especially those in connection with Broward’s plan to drain the Everglades. Between 1905 and 1935, the Florida legislature incorporated more than 125 drainage districts throughout the State of Florida.