Flooded areas could take days to drain into ocean, water officials say

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Tropical Storm Isaac has left Palm Beach County underwater. But, as the water slowly subsides, questions have been quick to rise. Homeowners are even flooding us with emails.

"It's a constant headache," Rick Fignar, a longtime resident of The Acreage said. According to Fignar every bad downpour causes a front yard deluge.

"Every time we have seven to ten inches of rain, this is what we get," he said.

It's also a problem Acreage leaders have been asking for help for, for years. "We need more help," Tanya Quickel, the District Administrator for the Indian Trail Improvement District, said. "Every year we have six-inch plus rain events that are challenging, but this is beyond what our system can handle."

Right now, the 110,000 square mile community is only allowed to empty out a quarter of an inch of water for their 100,000 square mile area, per day. Attempts to raise those numbers have failed

"What we really need is an inch," Quickel said. "It would make a huge difference."

South Florida Water Management District controls water flow across the region. The agency also decides how much water each community can release in to the C-51 canal, the regions bathtub. Monday, the amount of water contained in an Olympic-size swimming pool moved through the canal every ten seconds. It was the most the system has ever recorded.

While Quickel and Acreage leaders attempt to increase the amount of water it is able to release from their canals, they South Florida Water Management District has to consider how that extra water would impact neighboring communities.

"There's some risk to that because of the communities to the east that would be affected with their own recovery efforts," A South Florida Water Management District spokesman said.

"We cannot negatively impact our neighboring communities like Village of Palm Beach," Quickel said. "We all have to work together and South Florida Water Management coordinates that effort."

It's a balancing act for South Florida Water Management leaders, the ultimate decision makers.

Investigative Producer Lynn Walsh contributed to this story.

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