PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - As the rainy season begins, Lake Worth Drainage District is more prepared than ever before to manage lots of incoming water.
“The computer is like a person who is sitting at the site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and it’s looking at one thing: what’s the water level," said Tommy Strowd, director of operations and maintenance for LWDD.
A new $4 million system monitors the water levels of the district's canals and works to keep them within a certain range.
"The rain we just had was perfect for automatic operation," Strowd said. "You set the area you want the canal to function in and then the system takes over kind of like an auto-pilot and it’s moving water within that range."
If the water starts rising then the system automatically responds by letting water out.
"The computer makes the decision that the gate needs to open," Strowd said.
That same process can take a long time for an employee to do without the technology. Up until now, employees had to physically go to different canals to look at water level gauges and then decide if gates needed to be opened.
“You could have several hours between when you realize you need to make a decision and when the gates are actually opened," Strowd said. "Now, we’ve cut that down to minutes.”
That keeps the excess water flowing into the ocean ultimately and off people's property.
“Obviously getting rid of as much water as we can as quickly as we can is one way to avoid flooding and this system does that," Strowd said.
Strowd said LWDD employees can still override the system if necessary and will continue to constantly monitor the water levels.
The system also conserves water during drier times of year by only releasing the exact amount of water necessary to bring the canal down to a normal level.