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Rain Rain And More Rain: Part II: As We Witnessed Last Week, Water Does Not Discriminate

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

April 27, 2023

As some of our friends and neighbors are recovering from last week's storm, many are left with the question, “Who is to blame for the flooding?” I try to stay connected with all Social Media and particularly items that pertain to City business and issues. This question prompted a long discussion on one platform. The answers ranged from nature to government officials. Actually, the entire spectrum of responses at some level rang true. There is no one place to point the blame.

Obviously, Mother Nature has always had her way. There is little that can be done to stop hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and drought. The world is dealing with Climate Change which compounds the effects. I have been following reports for over 20 years. As a Trustee of the US Conference of Mayors we were given a climate briefing from NASA years ago. I, along with the Mayors across the country, did not allow partisan disputes to keep us from acting.

The Mayors united to start addressing climate issues well before our national counterparts. I began studying and working to implement this policy. There are ways we can all address the impacts through Engineering and Building Infrastructure. These range from simple steps to extensive Infrastructure programs. I also lobbied Congress and the county for funding.

As we witnessed last week, water does not discriminate. It finds the lowest point and then spreads from there. Infrastructure to address flooding ranges from natural environments to huge engineering projects. Each has pluses and minuses.

In a news interview last week, I shared that it is incumbent as elected officials to educate the public on what we can do and the financial implications of these large-scale projects. Without knowledge there cannot be realistic expectations of our constituents. Our stakeholders also need to understand the cost burden.

Drainage systems are composed of various types of treatments. During the storm, our Public Works Director, Jeff Odoms shared a section of the national standards handbook. This manual is one of the tools engineers use while designing systems. There is no one size fits all application or 100 percent results.

Exfiltration trenches are what many think of as a French Drain, but French Drains have pipes. They are areas in which gravel is placed under the soil that allows water to filter into the natural system. Many are on private property. They are designed to provide the capacity for the required treatment average volume of Stormwater within 72 hours.

In other words, in a typical rain event the water should be gone within 72 hours. In exfiltration systems, Stormwater is drawn down by natural soil infiltration and dissipation into the ground water table as opposed to underdrain systems which rely on artificial methods such as drainage pipes.

Swales are another type of application. The front of homes are to be designed with a dip. The dip creates an area to pool water. Also, citywide swale Stormwater management is designed for storage volume recovery within the permitted time, less than 72 hours. Failure to percolate the required treatment volumes indicates reduction of the infiltration rate and a need to restore system permeability.

Sea Level Rise is negatively impacting these two types of systems. They also are impacted by the levels of rainfall. In general, if water sits for more than 72 hours there is a real problem. We target for 24 hours and then look for solutions.

With Sea Level Rise and our tidal system, the next level and what we will be seeing more of are Underground Storage Retention systems like the ones in the Northeast and Southwest Quadrants. Sea Level Rise has virtually eliminated the ability to apply other methods. The perfect example of this is along Northeast 10th and Northeast 2nd Streets. Some of those homes are one foot above Sea Level.

The Northeast Quadrant Drainage Area is like a large pool. During rain events the system of gravity pipes fill and it triggers the pumps. The pumps then inject the water underground. The current system has the capacity to pump large amounts of water. Just like in ships, the pumps can manage a certain amount of water per minute but if the breach is too large, the pumps cannot keep up and the ship fills.

This is where the government comes in. We need to expand the system. When the Northeast Quadrant Drainage Area was built, there was simply not enough funding to cover the whole Quadrant from Federal Highway to 14th Avenue. We needed to focus on the hot spot first. There needs to be an expansion or creation of a separate system. We also need to look at Atlantic Shores Boulevard to Moffett Street.

Moffett Street borders Hollywood. They approached us about a partnership. Their drainage storm pumps sit right at Moffett Street. I am not sure of how old their Infrastructure is but a while back they added a standing pump adjacent to the existing system. I also doubt the system has injection wells as these were just recently being required by the county due to Pollution and Sea Level Rise.

There is plenty of work to be done by our Commission. We continue to work together to address these concerns as well as many others. These systems will cost millions of dollars. The way to pay for them is through bonds that require Fee Increases to our taxpayers. We also look to our State and National Leaders to help with Grants and Earmarks. We can also put on our Referendum, a Government Obligation Bond where the costs are placed on Annual Tax Bills.

Currently we have estimated well over two hundred million plus in Water, Sewer and Stormwater needs. Our current projects are replacing fifteen sanitary sewer pumps and underground pipes in the Northeast and Southeast Quadrants. We have increased our rates to ensure we can bond for these improvements. We have also been fortunate to have received State Funding and Federal Dollars’ offset the costs.

Going back to the internet conversation, one complaint was about Taxes. So, there is a disconnect on why we increase Fees and Taxes. They are used for these Projects and many other Operational Needs. I would like to explain that we are Taxpayers too. We must do our jobs and if it means raising Fees and Taxes, we do it by providing and ensuring the oversight of every dollar.

As always, I am available for your questions, concerns and ideas to help make our City a better place. Please feel free to reach out to me at my office at: (954) 457-1318. On my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. Or email at:

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