Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose 'Pepe' Diaz: Water levels should have been lowered sooner

South Florida Water Management District says levels were lowered for forecasted rain

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DORAL, Fla. - Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz is unhappy with the way the South Florida Water Management District handled Tropical Storm Isaac's heavy rain.

"This is very serious and I don't know why South Florida Water Management is allowing this to take place but we are going to fight it," said Diaz.

Diaz said he watched the water rise in Sweetwater and Doral until it was inches from flooding homes and he thinks water management officials should have drawn down levels in canals a lot sooner.

"That's Russian roulette. You don't allow a system to get that high and deal with something like this and allow people to have a possible loss -- a great loss," said Diaz.

A 900-acre retention basin near Tamiami Trail and nearly a dozen high powered pumps along the C-4 canal serve as an emergency valve for managers to lower the waterway quickly, but Diaz thinks they started pumping too late.

South Florida Water Management officials said they pumped more than 651 million gallons of water in 24 hours. About 10:30 a.m. Monday, officials starting drawing down the C-4 canal about a foot and a half, more than enough, they say, to handle the 8 to 10 inches of rain forecasted for Doral and Sweetwater.

But Diaz said if the area had gotten the kind of rainfall amounts they received in Palm Beach County, it would have been catastrophic. Meantime, Governor Rick Scott told reporters Wednesday managing the rainfall is a delicate balance.

"As you move water from one area and you push it either east or west, then you might impact another community, and so they are trying to make sure they don't adversely impact any community as they try to help one community," said Scott.

"They are taking a gamble with our property and our lives," said Diaz.

In a statement to Local 10, Tommy Strowd, Director of Operations at the South Florida Water Management District, said: "The regional flood control system is responding as designed to move water as quickly and safely as possible away from affected areas. It will take time for standing water to recede from the intense, historical rainfall."

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