Stormwater - What You Can Do

As we state on our Stormwater Management page, the District has a tremendous responsibility in the proper management of a large volume of stormwater runoff, with our area receiving, on average, over 60 inches of rain per year. In addition, SIRWCD must comply with regulations set forth in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that is issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency in Florida. The objectives of the regulations is to reduce or mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff on the environment through several program elements, such as stormwater treatment projects, roadway maintenance, flood control, pesticide and herbicide application, maintenance of structural controls and illicit discharges. It is important to manage the flow of the large volume of water through the District's canals for maximum protection and benefit to property owners, and landowners also can help in a number of ways.


Landscapes in South Florida are designed to channel excess stormwater into communities' stormwater collection systems, such as swales, drainage pipes, retention ponds, lakes and canals. Along the way, stormwater runoff picks up pollutants, including fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste from residential and commercial properties landscapes, as well as oils and chemicals from roadways and driveways. Eventually, the stormwater runoff flows into nearby bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and wetlands and eventually can make its way to the groundwater aquifers that supply our drinking water. Infiltration practices, such as the swales used in the District, reduce the volume of stormwater runoff and its associated pollutants, which can be filtered as the water passes through the soils.


Through the District's Notes & News newsletter, we provide tips and guidance on ways property owners can help manage stormwater runoff and its negative effects. Here are some tips that you can follow to help reduce stormwater runoff on your property, conserve water, save money and help the environment, all at the same time!

  • Water infrequently, deeply and thoroughly, which encourages deep rooting for healthier and hardier plants that will be more resistant to drought - most lawns need less than 1 inch of water once per week or even once every two weeks during cooler weather
  • Water early in the day, especially during the warm months, to reduce evaporation
  • Water only when your lawn needs it - look for grass blades that are folded in half, when they are blueish gray in color and your footprint remains in the lawn
  • In many areas of Florida, year-round conservation measures limiting landscape irrigation are in effect to reduce water usage - please check this link for updates
  • Utilize drip or micro-irrigation systems, which deliver water to plant roots, to save water
  • Use mulch to help keep water in the soil around plants
  • Keep lawnmower blades sharp and adjusted so that lawns are maintained at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches in height
  • Create rain gardens on your property - these can not only be attractive, but also provide areas for storing stormwater runoff as they infiltrate about 30% more water than turfgrass
  • Install rain barrels to collect water from roof downspouts and save for reuse in watering plants during drier periods - more information is available from the University of Florida
  • Use drought-resistant native plants and Xeriscaping to reduce the need for irrigation and minimize the use of turf grass
  • Reduce impervious surface areas such as driveways or patios on your property through the use of permeable pavements and creative landscaping
  • Use the right plants in the right places to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizer - phosphorous and nitrogen in particular are detrimental, causing algae blooms in waterways
  • Do not dump anything in the District canals or swales to ensure drainage is maintained - if you witness any dumping, please report it to the District office immediately
  • Debris and trash in stormwater drains can interfere with flood prevention as well as decrease water quality - when a stormwater drain/catch basin gets clogged with debris, rainwater that normally would be collected cannot enter into the drainage system, causing flooded sidewalks or streets and increasing the chances for flooding buildings
  • Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water - if you wash your own car, park on the grass or other non-paved surface and use a hose with an automatic or self-cancelling nozzle

More information from South Florida Water Management District, Palm Beach County and State of Florida:

What You Can Do

Florida-Friendly Landscaping

Water Wise Landscaping Guide

50 Ways to Be Water Smart

Sensible Sprinkling

Keeping Canal Right-Of-Ways Clear

Stormwater Best Management Practices

Palm Beach County Municipal Stormwater Systems Group Stormwater and Me - Outreach Materials

Florida Department of Environmental Management - Small Scale Horse Operations - Best Management Practices for Water Resource Protection
Septic System Information