RCAP Database | West Palm Beach Case Study of WS-7

Initiative: Stormwater Master Planning and Watershed Integration Initiative

Municipality: 
County: 
Contact Name: 
Scott Kelly
Contact Email: 
sdkelly@wpb.org
Coastal/Inland: 
Coastal

Stormwater management is a critical element of the City’s broader integrated water management program. Municipal governments have undervalued this water resource which can have negative economic, environmental and social consequences. The City’s holistic watershed management approach addresses all water issues including water quantity, water quality, green infrastructure, sea level rise, and the energy/water nexus.

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Quick Facts & Statistics

Over the past two years, the City has saved residents over $6 million annually in flood insurance premiums by taking on this project.  Future and potentially comparable savings will be realized through proactive management of upcoming water quality regulations.  

Description

The Stormwater Master Plan and Watershed Integration Initiative will establish a new foundation for the City’s stormwater program for the next 30 years.  The project includes classical elements of a stormwater master plan but also includes programmatic measures to further the City’s ability to:

  • Protect the health, safety, and welfare of City of West Palm Beach residents.
  • Protect and restore the City’s surface and groundwater resources.
  • Protect public and private property.
  • Mitigate property damage, adverse environmental and economic impacts, and other hazards resulting from inadequate stormwater management.

Implementation Process

 The initiative began out of the needs of several City departments – public utilities, engineering, geographic information systems, building, sustainability, and emergency planning – to name a few.  Elected officials were also involved in addressing the needs of citizens with concerns related to flooding.  The project was also spurred by floodplain mapping activities that were completed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the City’s interest in improving its Community Rating System involvement to provide relief to citizens in terms of flood insurance.  Water quality was also of increasing concern as the City considered the potential of more proactively addressing water quality regulation and management, particularly as it relates to protection of the Lake Worth Lagoon and the City’s active linkage between stormwater and water supply.  Furthermore, the City felt that it needed to include a holistic climate change and sea level rise analysis in this planning effort.  In 2014, the City collectively decided they wanted to update their stormwater master plan and use this mechanism to address these many needs.  

Implementation Timeline

The duration of the initiative has been 18 months to get started – essentially to complete the Stormwater Master Plan. It will be complete in March of 2016. Implementation will occur in several phases over the next five years.

Implementation Funding

The project is being funded out of the Utilities Department.

Community Benefits

As a result of this initiative, the City will become a Florida, and perhaps a national, leader in stormwater management.  The comprehensive and integrated nature of the project will allow the City to shift into proactive and modern management of their stormwater and water resources programs.  Primary benefits include:

  • A living stormwater master plan integrated with water supply plan
  • Lower flood insurance premiums and modernized floodplain maps
  • A City-scaled climate change and sea level rise analysis and planning approach
  • Refined and efficient management of the City’s stormwater utility