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EWP Debris Removal in South Indian River Water Control District (SIRWCD)

EWP Debris Removal in South Indian River Water Control District(SIRWCD)

In Florida, there are 450 independent water control districts.  One of them received more than their share of hurricane damage in August of 2004.  Two hurricanes slammed into Jupiter Farms in south Florida and created massive flooding in the canals maintained by the South Indian River Water Control District (SIRWCD).  According to Gale English, General Manager of the SIRWCD, "Francis hit us first.  It dropped a little over eight inches of water.  The second hurricane came about three weeks later and the water that had been dumped by the first hurricane was already in place.  And although we got less, just a few inches in the second hurricane, we got more water.  Most of the roads in the district were under water.  The flooding lasted probably three days."

Canal clean up

"The majority of the material that landed in the canals was vegetation.  Water was everywhere.  In this area we have about 47 miles of canals.  And I think 80 per cent of them were impacted" - Gale English

English sought federal help to restore the water flow to the canals of Jupiter Farms.  "Well we knew we needed help initially.  So we went to the Federal Emergency Management, FEMA.  FEMA directed us to NRCS as the primary agent to clean (debris from) the canal system for public bodies like this."

SIRWCD discussing EWP cleanup

Time is of the essence in debris removal in Florida.  According to Mr. English, "First thing is that if you get a potential blockage in the canal system then you can have a major flood with all of those trees there.  You are going to have a very slow drain.  You won't be able to get rid of the water as quickly as before.  Secondly, the fire danger is always present when you have those kinds of dead trees lying around close to properties."

Mulch pile from EWP canal cleanup

Contractors were out within three weeks of signing the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) agreement with NRCS.  "We have had very good service with NRCS", says Gale English.  "They were able to step in and help us almost immediately."  He went on to commend the federal agency.  "It was a smooth operation and we have found that it is an unusually well run organization.  They have stepped up to the plate and provided for us a means to get the job done."

The SIRWCD anticipates that the cleanup work on the canals in Jupiter Farms will be done ahead of schedule and on budget, thanks to the EWP program and Florida NRCS.

Go to Emergency Water Protection program (EWP) for more information.

Florida Program Contact

Jesse Wilson, State Conservation Engineer, 352-338-9557

Bob Stobaugh, Public Affairs Specialist, (352) 338-9565