Who do I contact if I have flooding?
If emergency assistance is needed, please call 911.  If it is not an emergency, then you use the information below to help determine the jurisdiction of your concern.

If you are in a subdivision, you should first call the entity responsible for the operation and maintenance of your storm water managements system (ponds, swales, catch basins, culverts, etc.) This is typically a homeowners’ association, property owners’ association or community development district (CDD).

If the operating entity (association or CDD) is unresponsive, then you can contact the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) at (239) 338-2929 for more information.

You can determine if you are in a permitted subdivision by searching your property on the following SFWMD website:  https://apps.sfwmd.gov/WAB/ePermittingWebApp/index.html?mobileBreakPoint=300&slayer=0&exprnum.

If you are within unincorporated Lee County, we encourage you to the following link to determine whether a road is county-maintained:  http://leegis.leegov.com/RoadLookup/
Once you determine whether the road is in unincorporated Lee County or is a county-maintained road, we have the following available options for you: 

You can contact Lee County Request For Action (RFA) by calling (239) 533-9400.
You can report your concern at https://www.leegov.com/dot/requestforaction.  
You can also use the RFA system to report maintenance needs of other county-maintained facilities, such as canals and structures within county property or that serve county-maintained roads.  
If the area you are concerned about is within the limits of a city or water control district, please use the following contacts to convey the issue that concerns you:

City of Sanibelhttp://www.mysanibel.com/
Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LAMSID)http://www.myecwcd.net/
East Mulloch Drainage District: (239) 267-7472
San Carlos Estates Water Control Districthttp://www.scewcd.org/

What has Lee County done since Hurricane Irma to prevent future flooding?
Immediately after Irma, the county identified and removed trees and other debris from waterways that were potentially impeding flow.  This was the first phase of the county’s multi-faceted approach to mitigate ongoing and future flooding.   This work continued through 2017 and 2018.  
For Phase 2, the county contracted with four local consultant engineering firms to assist with the assessment of heavily impacted watersheds and establish an inventory of remedial measures. 

Data from this effort, completed in March 2018, enabled the county to proceed with early activities that provided relief prior to the 2018 rainy season and the foundation to scope the Phase 3 Flood Mitigation Plan currently under development. The Phase 3 goal is to establish a plan to reduce flooding on a larger regional scale.

What causes flooding?
Flooding can be caused by a number of factors, including rapid rainfall, river-flow and tidal surge, clogged drainage systems, changes resulting from building or development, and many others.  http://www.leegov.com/publicsafety/emergencymanagement/plan/floodinfo/floodsafety

In Southwest Florida, frequently flooding occurs when the amount and intensity of rain overwhelms the drainage system’s ability to carry away the storm water.  Typically, at the onset of the summer rainy season, our ground becomes fully saturated and any subsequent rains either must pond on property (in some cases flood), run off or evaporate.  Our area has very low relief and our natural flood plains has to expand widely to carry water from inland communities to the ultimate destination, which is the Gulf of Mexico.  Manufactured alterations to our landscape can aggravate flooding as well. Past filling of floodplains and lack of adequate storage can both increase the level and duration of flooding.  The Phase 3 study will take an in-depth review of this concern.   

What is watershed?

A watershed is a ridge of high/higher land dividing two areas that are drained by different river systems.  A more detailed explanation is at the following link:  https://www.leegov.com/naturalresources/WaterQuality/watersheds

What is Lee County doing to minimize flooding?
The county is constantly working to keep its drainage infrastructure maintained.  If you have a drainage concern that is within Lee County’s jurisdiction to maintain, please let us know by contacting Lee County Request For Action DOT RFA at (239) 533-9400 or https://www.leegov.com/dot/requestforaction.  (Also, see question 1 for further information.)

Also, you may read about the status of the ongoing Flood Mitigation efforts at https://www.leegov.com/flooding

If there is a buildup of sediment in a creek, who will dredge it?
Deposition of sediment in waterways originates from erosion of soils nearby or upstream.  This is common in river and creek systems and is often found at road crossings and where a waterbody meets its termination point into a larger body of water.  There are many erosion control practices in place. But inevitably, some material movement will occur during large storm events.  This is the phenomena behind the creation of many vast delta systems in the world.  Unfortunately, this same function can limit the flood-carrying capacity of our drainage system.  In some cases, the material must be removed for public safety purposes.  Sediment buildup obstructing flow within the county’s jurisdiction can be reported to https://www.leegov.com/dot/requestforaction.   

If the sediment removal is for navigational purposes within an area that does not specifically provide access to the general public, then dredging would typically be the responsibility of the adjacent property owner(s).

Adjacent property owners have the option of establishing a Municipal Service Taxing/Benefit Unit (MSTBU) to provide this type of maintenance service.  Property owners in unincorporated Lee County who wish to implement special services or improvement projects to their neighborhood or community can petition the Board of County Commissioners to create a MSTBU, a dependent unit of government.  These services or projects are paid through ad valorem taxes, assessments or charges to the properties that benefit from the service or project.  These payments are made through your annual tax bill.  For county assistance in establishing the MSTBU, visit  https://www.leegov.com/budget/mstbu

How is my Storm Water Management System designed?

Typically, the storm water management systems (SWMS) are designed so living quarters do not flood.  Minor roads and the remaining property can frequently hold standing water during rainy season because these areas are often considered part of the storage volume in many SWMS designs.  Below is an approximate depiction of the SWMS components and the typical corresponding storm frequency/intensity they are designed to:

What is the level of service of Lee County drainage systems?
It varies for natural systems; however, county-maintained systems are typically engineered to the 25-year, three-day capacity.    

What kind of rainfall would trigger a 25-year, three day storm event?
Approximately 11 inches of rain within a consecutive 72-hour period would be necessary to be considered a 25-year, three-day storm event.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a website with an interactive map that shows location specific precipitation frequency estimates: 

What exactly does a 100-year flood event mean? There have been more than one in the last 100 years.
People sometimes hear the phrase “100-year” flood and think a flood happens only once in one hundred years.  That adage is not true.  The Special Flood Hazard Area is an area that has a 1 percent chance, or a 1 in 100 chance, of a flood happening in any given year.  That means a flood could happen this year and again the next year.  It has nothing to do with calendar years.  The phrase “1 percent annual chance flood” is more accurate. 

 A 1% annual flood Chance flood has a 1 percent probability of occurring in any given year.  More information about this concept is at https://water.usgs.gov/edu/100yearflood-basic.html

How do I minimize flood damage on my property?
Regularly maintain drainage ditches, pipes and structures so they remain free of debris, trash or sediment that may restrict flow.  Many storm water management systems have water control structures that allow the release of water from a community’s lakes and dry detention systems.  Blockage of these water-control structures by trash or sediment is one of the most common maintenance issues that can have a huge impact on the function of the system.  A simple paper cup can be lodged within the typical 3-inch diameter bleeder, which is a notch or hole cut into a structure to allow controlled discharge out of a system.  The cup could then prevents water from leaving the lake or dry detention system.  Bleeders are also often buried under sediment in dry detention systems such as swales.  

Maintenance should be performed at least once a year, especially before rainy season.

What is storm surge and how does it impact drainage?

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water levels in the gulf or its connected estuaries caused mainly by the forces of a storm’s winds.  This is typically evaluated as part of tropical storm and hurricane impacts to our community.  Water levels can rise quickly and flood large areas in a short interval.  Storm surge can occur before, during or after the center of a storm passes through an area.  Rise in water levels at the receiving end of a drainage system will cause the drainage system not to function as designed and causing flooding.