Broward County is preparing to meet
the long-term water needs of its residents in a number of
ways. As discussed in the previous section, water conservation
is fundamental and critical. However, water conservation alone
cannot provide all of the water needed for Everglades restoration
To do this, we must invest in new water development technologies.
The County’s IWRP includes a number of strategies to ensure that all
of the County’s future water needs are met, regardless of whether
it’s wet or dry.
This section describes some
of the innovative technological solutions already being used by the
County, and some technologies that are being considered for future
use. Examples include:
- Secondary canal integration
- Wetland rehydration
- Utility sharing
- Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)
- Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT), and
- Water filtration or reverse osmosis
ASR, AWT, and reverse osmosis are all examples of alternative
water supply technologies, and will be discussed in the next
section, Developing New
Water Resources because these are technologies that Broward
County is just beginning to investigate or they are in the early
stages of implementation.
Secondary Canal Integration
Canal integration is a fundamental part of the IWRP. Ultimately,
the goal is to have a canal system that is flexible enough to move
water from one part of the County to another, depending on who needs
water, when, and in what amount.
There are currently over
1,700 miles of canals in Broward County.
While the system was originally designed for drainage and flood
control purposes, under the IWRP, the system’s use is being expanded
to meet additional water management needs – like maintaining ground
water elevations, canal elevations, and wetland rehydration. By
improving our current canal system, we can ensure that water is
distributed to the areas where it’s needed most.
approach to water distribution provides us with the opportunity to
be more effective in meeting our water management goals.
Through culverts and other
interconnections, the County has optimized ways to capture, store,
and redistribute water within the canal network. The canal system is
still intended to provide drainage, but since rainfall distribution
is variable, there are frequently opportunities to move water to
communities downstream or upstream, where additional water storage
is available and perhaps recharge is needed.
This allows the County to hold onto more stormwater runoff, and
reuse it later. It also minimizes unnecessary discharges to the
Everglades system, while still providing flood protection.
Broward’s initial efforts have focused on the capture, retention,
and redistribution of local rainfall throughout the canal system.
But, in order to achieve long-term success, the County needs to
improve local storage, and diversify water supplies.
By doing this, we can better plan
for droughts and reduce our reliance on the Everglades. The County’s
canal system offers tremendous surface water storage capacity.
However, water levels in the canal system are highly dependent on
rainfall, so additional water sources may be needed to ensure that
there is enough water for everyone, when it’s wet and when it’s
Broward County is developing a plan that will identify
alternative water supply projects that would be able to produce
enough water to maintain the canal system and groundwater levels
during wet and dry cycles. By maintaining water levels within the
canal system and aquifer, the County can make sure that residents
continue to receive the water they need regardless of weather
patterns. Drought management is also discussed in the Developing
New Sources section of this website.
Our County is blessed with many
natural ecosystems, including the Everglades, estuarine systems, and
urban natural areas.
By now you already know that historical drainage has had
unintended consequences on natural systems – including many of the
County’s wetlands. Broward sees rehydrating urban wetlands as a key
piece to the water management puzzle.
When managed properly, wetlands retain water during periods of
heavy rain, filter water so that it can be reused, and act as a
natural buffer reducing urban stormwater runoff. And, they provide
habitat for water birds like cranes and egrets, as well as frogs,
and other urban wildlife. As an added bonus, it is also estimated
that up to 80% of water used to rehydrate wetlands benefits the
aquifer and nearby wellfields through indirect recharge.
Broward County is also working very closely with its 31 local water utilities to help ensure that growing water needs are met.
The objective of utility integration is to make the most of our
limited water resources, reduce redundant operations and
expenditures, and seek partnerships to improve the economics of more
Each one of Broward’s 31 water utilities has a distinct service
area, but they all draw water from the Biscayne Aquifer. Given the
geographic location of the utility, there may be different
constraints on their ability to operate a wellfield. The threat of
saltwater intrusion, the potential for induced water flow from the
Everglades, and wetland impacts are all influences to be considered.
Where constraints do exist, there
may be opportunities for utilities to share existing water resources
to meet future demands. For example, some utilities may have
wellfield capacity that exceeds their demands, and they could be in
the position to share this resource with neighboring utilities.
Another example is of municipalities, drainage districts, and
water utilities partnering to distribute water over a certain
geographic area with the purpose of providing wellfield recharge or
combating saltwater intrusion. The County’s hydrologic modeling
helps to identify these kinds of opportunities. By working
together, some utilities may be able to reduce their need for
alternative water supplies and still ensure that residents,
businesses, and industries have the water that they need, when they
As you have seen, conservation and education are of the utmost
importance to the Broward water management community. In addition to
promoting water conservation, the County is also working to achieve
more efficient operations, and better integrate the secondary canal