Did you know that in very heavy rains, some water standing in streets or swales is part of the flood control design plan and is expected? Your neighborhood lake's water level may seem to rise alarmingly, but that's not likely to last. If the system in your neighborhood is working properly, levels will return to normal soon after the rain has stopped. A heavier, more widespread and longer-lasting storm will require more time for local, secondary and regional systems to absorb the excess water. Because these flood control systems are connected, what's happening upstream or downstream from your neighborhood also has an impact.
You can help these systems work efficiently. Make sure the drainage grates and other parts of your neighborhood drainage system are clear of debris. Grass clippings and fallen leaves can quickly slow drainage in your neighborhood.
In South Florida, about 50% of the drinking water we use is sprinkled on our lawns and gardens! Train your landscape to adapt to Florida's normal cycle of dry and wet seasons. Most of us irrigate much more often than needed. Excess watering can encourage plants with shallow roots that are easily stressed by dry conditions, or may be prone to disease.
Most lawns only need about an inch of water a week. During the peak wet season (June–October), the water most lawns need is supplied by nature in rainfall. When cooler weather prevails and the rains taper off, most plants start to grow more slowly and need less of everything.
Whenever possible, look for native Florida plants or plants adapted to drought and flood. You will use much less water, fertilizer and pesticides, saving you money and keeping excess nutrients and chemicals from flushing into storm systems.
Some communities have adopted "dual water/reuse" systems. In these systems, water used for washing dishes or clothes, showers or other inside uses is cleaned and then recycled for irrigation. We are working with communities to develop more of these water-conserving systems.
You can save water inside too, by making small changes in how you use water inside your home. For resources to help you to prepare for flood and drought, see the lists below.