The third system that makes up our overall water management system here in Broward County is the tertiary system. Consider it your "neighborhood" water management system. This is the part of the system where we, as Broward residents, have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment in South Florida.
When properly maintained by homeowner's associations, municipalities, individual landowners, and property managers the tertiary system provides storage of excess stormwater in public recreation areas, yard and roadside swales, and even on the streets. The idea is for water to drain slowly into community lakes and retention ponds by way of street and yard drainage grates or culverts, ditches and canals. The water then drains into the secondary system, and eventually on to the primary.
Because the tertiary system is the first line of defense in preventing pollution, it is important to understand how the system collects and conveys stormwater. As stormwater runs off lawns and hard surfaces it collects pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and gasoline.
These pollutants can ultimately end up in lakes, wetlands, canals, the Everglades, marine environments, and our drinking water supplies. By working to minimize our use of these pollutants we can help improve water quality.
The tertiary system is designed to absorb and treat stormwater by providing temporary storage. Flood protection is enhanced by "pervious" storage areas, or areas where the water is able to seep into the ground.
A neighborhood with lots of swales and green space has a better capacity to absorb rainwater than a neighborhood that's completely paved over. Pervious water storage areas also help address the issue of water quality since storage features such as swales allow the water to be filtered by vegetative ground cover, which is usually turf grass.
Other features in your neighborhood also contribute to the efficiency of the tertiary system. These include local retention ponds, culverts and catch basins.