The Excellence Award was presented to the City at the FSA Annual Conference in June.
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (July 11, 2019) –
The City of West Palm Beach has received the 2019 Excellence Award for program excellence from the Florida Stormwater Association for demonstrating a high level of distinction in stormwater programs. The Excellence Award was presented to the City at the FSA Annual Conference in June.
A stormwater program manages the water that originates during precipitation events. Stormwater can soak into the soil, be held on the surface and evaporate, or run off and end up in water bodies such as streams or catchment areas. Serving more than 110,000 residents as well as the Town of Palm Beach and Town of South Palm Beach, West Palm Beach’s water supply is one of the only surface water supplies in the State of Florida. The stormwater infrastructure in the City includes 160 miles of storm sewer with 9850 structures, 14 miles of canals, 7 stormwater pumps, and 24-hour maintenance staff; in addition, the City is investing in a $1-million tree canopy. The City’s Stormwater Utility was established in 1993, and, in recent years, the City has become one of the most active and innovative American cities in terms of sustainability and resiliency planning.
A critical part of West Palm Beach’s system is Grassy Waters Preserve (GWP), a historic remnant of the Florida Everglades. GWP is not only a part of the City’s water supply but also a critical ecologic and educational resource. It is home to both threatened and endangered species – most notably the snail kite. GWP occupies 38% of the City or over 23 square miles. West Palm Beach exists in a very complex socioeconomic and hydrologic environment. It is bordered by several other municipalities, Palm Beach County, and the Lake Worth Lagoon. The City also includes some surface water resources and structures that are managed by special districts, FDOT, and the SFWMD.
In 2014, the City committed to a vision for its stormwater program through the development of a holistic Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP). The SWMP is the first stormwater plan of its kind in South Florida that not only includes traditional development of capital improvement projects but also drives the City’s vision to proactively modernize and adjust to the new realities of climate change specific to stormwater management. The SWMP leverages the best of traditional technologies and integrates the use of resiliency planning and catered technologies to better prepare the City for future conditions.
In the past several years, the City completed five major planning efforts that focused on stormwater/water quality and completely re-envisioned its future as an integrated and sustainable surface water system. These efforts helped the City in the establishment of detailed goals related to programmatic and capital investments for stormwater. These efforts included:
- The SWMP;
- A vulnerability assessment;
- Advanced resiliency planning;
- An increased focus on green infrastructure and sustainability;
- Water quality baseline reporting.
The City of West Palm Beach also completed several major data collection and analysis efforts which consisted of both traditional stormwater planning efforts but also efforts based on emerging needs. These efforts included several studies geared toward addressing the concerns of climate change and sea level rise.
Viewing stormwater through a holistic lens, the City integrates stormwater planning with issues pertaining to greenhouse gases emissions, multiple climate threats, mobility, socioeconomic, and complex combinations of neighborhood improvement projects. Diverse groups of business and citizen leaders provide ongoing feedback to the City regarding a wide variety of stormwater and water quality issues.
“We are grateful to the Florida Stormwater Association for their recognition of the City’s Stormwater Program,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James. “I congratulate the many City employees who have worked diligently on the stormwater program for many years, particularly the Utilities Stormwater team in our Department of Public Utilities, who—working in collaboration with the City’s Department of Engineering-- demonstrate their commitment to providing efficient, reliable and economical water, wastewater and stormwater for our customers and to protecting our water resources.”
For more information about the City of West Palm Beach Department of Public Utilities, please visit: https://wpb.org/Departments/Public-Utilities/Home. To contact the City of West Palm Beach, please call (561) 822-1400.
PHOTO CAPTION: Timothy Howard, Utilities Maintenance Supervisor for Stormwater; Elizabeth Perez, PE -consultant, Collective Waters; Poonam K. Kalkat, Director of Public Utilities; Louise Wardell, Environmental Compliance Specialist III; Bruce Allison, Public Utilities Maintenance Leader for Stormwater