• its jurisdiction efficiently. Northern entered into a pilot program to work extensively with SFWMD over a three-year period, which ends in March 2004. The result will be the ability to open and close floodgates as needed. The pilot allows Northern's operations staff to respond faster to any emergency or storm event. Quick response is crucial in Florida because of the number of unpredictable storms that may cause flooding.

    The pilot project has helped everyone involved understand the impact of opening a floodgate on neighboring areas in other jurisdictions. Northern will complete the pilot program then begin the permit process that may allow for a more customer service-oriented response to any flooding or emergency situation within a defined area of its jurisdiction.

    "There is no way to avoid flooding in South Florida," said Tommy Strowd, the former operations director who helped oversee the project for SFWMD. "This project significantly reduces the possibility that an operational problem will worsen a flooding situation."

    Susan Nefzger is the community information specialist for the Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District.

    Susan Nefzger  |  Contributing Writer