Stretching south from Orlando, the Everglades are vital to sustaining Florida’s sensitive ecosystem. To this end, proper water management is critical to maintaining equilibrium for residents, vegetation and wildlife. In a climate like southern Florida's, well-planned and managed water management and drainage systems are essential. Neglecting this can have devastating result from—flooding to mold to costly residential and commercial real estate damage.
While water management is a tiered system operating on many levels with various oversight, it is true that water seeks its own level and thus what occurs in one tier or segment of the management process impacts all tiers.
Three Key Issues
“We deal with the primary system. For example, we’re like I-95, the counties and municipalities are like the secondary roads, and the HOAs are like the tertiary roads,” says Susan Sylvester, the chief of the Water Control Operations Bureau at the South Florida Water Management District. “The flow of traffic is the same as with water management. We operate a system that was built to operate flood control and that is our primary goal but along with that we deal with water supply which is so very important due to the Everglades and the environment.”
Mark Clark is a Wetlands and Water Quality Soil and Water Sciences specialist and an associate professor at University of Florida. He explains that there are three key issues related to water management: water supply, water quality and flooding (eventually related to sea level rise associated with climate change). While HOA’s are “tertiary,” boards have the ability to affect meaningful change.
“Water management relates to the demand for water from a finite water supply available to South Florida,” says Clark. “HOAs often control landscaping and irrigation expectations in the common areas of a community and influence the landscaping and irrigation expectations of homeowners within the community. Since 40 to 60 percent of the water used in residential areas is used for outdoor purposes, HOAs can have a strong effect on the water supply issue.”