Acreage flooding: Did it have to be so bad?

THE ACREAGE, Fla. - The historic images of The Acreage underwater are the pictures of what happens when too much rain falls in too little time.  But to Jay Foy, the community's flooding issues are exactly what he spent two decades trying to prevent.

"No, they're not in good shape out there at all," he says. "It doesn't have to be flooded that badly."

From 1991 to 2009, Foy served as the community's chief engineer and led efforts to get the South Florida Water Management to raise the amount of water the community could  release in the event of a storm. The South Florida Water Management District is the regulatory agency that governs regional stormwater flow and determines how much water communities can discharge every 24 hours.

Right now, the Indian Trails Improvement District, which controls The Acreage, is permitted to release 1/4 inch every 24 hours.

"That just doesn't work.  1/4 of an inch when you get the rainfalls we get in South Florida. It cannot serve the public," explained Foy.

Foy expressed his concerns in a 2007 permit modification request, obtained by the Contact 5 investigators.

In the request, Foy wrote to regional decision makers that, "the current discharge rate of 1/4 inch per day is a failure to the serve the public."

Click here to read the full application from Indian Trails requesting permit revisions.

The Contact 5 Investigators have confirmed the Indian Trails Improvement District has asked South Florida Water Management to raise its permitted discharge levels from 1/4 inch per 24 hours,  to 1 inch.  The most recent denial letter came in 2008, when District staff members recommended the board deny the request , "as it is inconsistent with the overall objectives of the District."

Click here to read the denial letter.

"I won't tell people in The Acreage this wouldn't have happened but with the proper discharge amount, it shouldn't stay there for a week or 2 weeks, it should be drained in a few days," said Foy who further explained that flooding in The Acreage will always happen when so much rain falls in such a short period of time.  "It shouldn't be so enduring," he added.

The Contact 5 Investigators asked South Florida Water Management leaders for an interview.  On Friday, district spokesperson Randy Smith sent us an email declining our request because "staff was very busy managing the aftermath of a powerful storm."

However, earlier this week Smith explained to NewsChannel 5 how any changes to water releases in The Acreage, could dramatically affect a neighboring community.

"There's some risk involved with that because the community to the east would be affected with their own recovery efforts," said Smith who further explained how determined permitted levels between communities is a "delicate balance."

The C-5 canal is the regional bathtub for most of Palm Beach.  It is where most of the floodwaters from out west end up.   In order for the canal to receive more water from areas like The Acreage, Foy says the canal would have to be wider. 

For The Acreage, 5 days after Isaac, floodwaters are still wreaking havoc on the 110 square mile area.

"It's very frustrating when it's like this," said Tanya Quickel, a District Administrator from Indian Trails.

Especially when communities nearby have already dried up.

"It's not appropriate or fair to the residents of The Acreage what's happening there," said Foy.  "I know they're being short changed."

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