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Massive South Florida retention pond gets a test from Eta

South Florida's water management systems were put to the test by the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Eta. How did they do?
South Florida's water management systems were put to the test by the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Eta. How did they do?

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Eta is long gone, but water is still pumping throughout South Florida.

The rain undoubtedly tested our water management system.

“Miami-Dade did fairly well,” said Armando Vilaboy of the South Florida Water Management District. “There was a lot of water on the Broward side.”

In Miami-Dade, water management officials estimate between six and 11 inches of rain. Broward saw up to 15 inches in some locations.

Water management had to pull out all their resources to withstand that onslaught of rain.

“Primary canals did fine. Some of the secondary, there were some issues we worked with the municipalities,” Vilaboy said.

In western Miami-Dade County, along SW 8th Street, west of the Turnpike, the C4 retention pond was created after the 2000 “no-name storm” with the expectation that we would get what we got these past couple days.

“It draws water out of the canal and it gives that groundwater somewhere to go,” Vilaboy explained. “That way when it’s raining and we can’t move enough water east, we can draw that water out west.”

The retention pond is designed to increase capacity along the C4 canal, which goes from about Miami International Airport to Krome Avenue, affecting cities including Miami, West Miami, Sweetwater and unincorporated Miami-Dade.

It is massive — 800 acres, 15 feet deep — and they say because of the rain we got over the past couple days it is almost at capacity.

Used only when absolutely necessary, if filled to capacity it can hold a billion gallons of water.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.